Esports a part of UK Sport’s new ten-year event strategy

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UK Sport (UKSP) has this week announced that esports is very much on its radar, as part of its new major event strategic framework.

The agency, which is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), invests around £100m per year in high performance sport.

It supports Britain’s best Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes, and co-ordinates bids for and staging of major international sporting events in the UK.

Now UK Sport says that esports is a part of its strategy. It has published a new major event hosting target list for the next decade, accompanied by ‘Making Live Sport Matter‘, UK Sport’s new major event strategic framework for the UK, targeting 70 events in 32 sports – and 18 World Championships.

The body said it hopes to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup, along with the Men’s Rugby World Cup, the Athletics World Championships, the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup and the Tour de France.

UK Sport said: “Making Live Sport Matter reflects the UK’s ambition to maintain its reputation as a world-leading host nation through securing a programme of events including the most impactful international events in women’s sport, whilst continuing to pioneer the integration of men’s and women’s events and the integration of Olympic and Paralympic sports.”

The UK is already preparing to host the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2025, the European Athletics Championships in 2026 and UEFA EURO 2028.

UK Sport added:

‘Alongside traditional powerhouse events, the hosting target list reflects a shift in approach to explore increasingly innovative event propositions which engage as broad a range of sports fans as possible. This includes existing and new event properties such as esports.’

UK Sport

“This includes both existing and new event properties such as the Skateboarding World Championships, the IOC’s new Olympic Qualifying Series for urban sports and the Climbing World Championships, alongside new concepts in urban, a para multi-sport and esports.”

Okay, so UK Sport spelt it as ‘e-sport’ in its report, but this recognition of and interest in the world of competitive video games is a start.

The UK has hosted a range of esports tournaments in recent years, from the Apex Legends ALGS events in London and Birmingham, to MSI 2023 London, the Rocket League World Championship (see winners Dignitas, top), the Call of Duty World Series of Warzone and lots more.

In 2024, there are many big esports events taking place in the UK, from the League of Legends Worlds 2024 finals to ESL One Birmingham, the Blast Premier Spring Final, a Halo Major, the Blast Rainbow Six Major in Manchester and more.

UK Sport said all events on its list ‘are subject to a feasibility process which typically assesses venue selection, winnability, bid processes, financial contributions and costs’, and that each event it invests in must have social impact ‘at its heart, and deliver positive, lasting change across areas including mental health, wellbeing, employment skills and environmental sustainability’.

The news also comes as UK Sport announces its 2023 Value of Events Report.

Last year an investment of £10.8m from UK Sport and Government supported 16 major sporting events, generating £373m in direct economic impact to the UK – a 6:1 direct return on investment.

Also, in 2023, UK Sport said it supported major sporting events leading to a total of 204,000 volunteering hours from over 6,000 people.

Simon Morton, Deputy CEO and Director of Events at UK Sport, said: “In the UK, millions of us choose to spend our free time watching and enjoying live sport with those that matter most to us, our friends, families and communities.

“Live sport is a fundamental part of this country’s social fabric. No other country buys more tickets per head to major sporting events than we do in the UK.

“In the years ahead, we want to host a programme of live sport that resonates with the British public and makes a difference to millions of people’s lives. That programme has to be more accessible to people and communities across the country ensuring sport reaches as many fans as possible.”

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew added: “With the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley in June, and the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 we’re building on our world leading reputation for hosting major sporting events.

“We are working closely with UK Sport and partners to fulfil our shared ambition to deliver up to seventy major events across thirty different sports to the UK in the years ahead.”

Related article: London’s Copper Box Arena gets new 10-year lease, paving the way for more esports events

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