Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "Esports are just at the beginning of the path"

Esports are recognized as the officially acknowledged sport in Russia according to the decree, which was published on the official portal of legal acts. Computer sports entered into the first class of the All-Russian registry of sports. This means that computer sports are officially recognized, but have not yet received the status of the national and supported at the Russia-wide level kind of sport. The President of the International Chess Federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov discussed this issue with Kommersant FM radio host Petr Kosenko.

- What do you think about this initiative of the Ministry of Sport? Let us remember that chess could be also considered a kind of esports for decades, because even the greatest grandmasters played against computer.
- Well, first, taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate all the computes gamers with great victory. Probably, it took enormous lobbying efforts to recognize computer games as a sport.  A formal application has been already submitted to us. We are considering the possibility to accept esports into membership of the International Mind Sports Association. Chess was either not recognized as sport at the time. However, as suggested the former President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch, we began to work together with the International Olympic Committee and ministries of sports of different countries, and finally chess was recognized as a sport in 1999. Thus, it seems to me, the computer gaming enthusiasts have chosen to take this path. I know that there are many esports fans around the world, who believe that computer games are also a sport. The sport is the kind of activities that ends with result and has winners and losers. Well, egamers are just qualifying for taking this niche.
- Do you play any type of computer games?
- I did not play it but tried to make children play the intellectual types of games like chess or checkers in our Kalmyk schools in my time. Of course, quick reactions and ability to calculate next move is very important in computer games. However, I have seen children attached to a computer for hours if not for days, losing their vision and so on. Therefore, I recommended to those who wanted to play against computer to play against computer chess programme; and that’s why I have organized matches between computer and World Champions Garry Kasparov, Vishy Anand and Vladimir Kramnik.
- Kirsan Nikolaevich, in fairness it must be noted that there are not only the notorious shooter video games, but the serious ones as well, like the very strategy games.
- As president of Mind Sports Association of the World, I support and will support esports. And of course, the strategy is important in computer games - the player has to foresee not only the opponent's first move but sometimes the fifth or sixth ones. Well, computer games, of course, will develop the intellect, and, due to the passion they generate, I believe, that they should be rightfully called a sport.
-Being a specialist in this kind of sports, please, explain the meaning of "entering into the first class of the All-Russian registry of sports". What kind of registry is it and what are the classes?
- If computer games are recognized as the sports games, they further should make sure that they get the rank of the sports classmanship, masters of sport, etc.  Possibly, the GMs would appear, as in chess. The next stage is that they should be included into the official funding programmes and the programmes of local sports organizations, Ministry of Sport, National and Continental Championships of the World. Well, I know that many countries have not yet recognized them. They have chosen a difficult path; however, we wish them success.
- What other games are included in this first class of the registry? The very chess, which section it is, incidentally, included into?
- Chess is a sport. Chess is recognized as an official sport in 117 countries around the world and by the International Olympic Committee. This means the programmes of many Ministries of Sport and the programmes of the National Olympic Committees support chess via Olympic committees at the continental and global levels. As far as the first level is concerned, they need to create federations in the regions. Firstly, they must have a federation created at the local level in addition to the federal level. Next, they should sign contracts with the local sports authorities, and so on, all the way up, according to the regulations. After that, they should be recognized by the Ministries of Sport, referees, sportsmen and qualifiers.
I would say that computer games are at the beginning of this path, they have just made few steps amounting to one per cent of the path and the remaining 99 per cents of steps are still to be made. They have to go through very bureaucratic and challenging stages that are more complicated than it seems. They would have to get a lot of approvals and authorizations.