The history of sports reflects social and industrial changes that have occurred in the world.

The scope of sports has expanded significantly over time, from simple forms of athletic competition involving basic exercises such as running, swimming and wrestling to more complex types including various ball games, equestrian events and car races.

Given this history, it is hardly surprising that the International Olympic Committee has started considering the adoption of certain electronic sports (e-sports) as Olympic events.

E-sports are actually competitive video game events, mainly played on personal computers rather than on home video game consoles.

In the United States and Europe, large e-sports events offering monetary prizes started being organized in the 1990s. There are now professional e-sports leagues in some Western countries.

Many professional e-sports players earn 100 million yen ($874,300) or more annually from event prizes and sponsorships.

More than 100 million people around the world regularly enjoy playing e-sports, according to one estimate.

So in recent years, e-sports have come to be seen as more than mere entertainment. In Norway, they have been adopted as high school elective subjects, while in China some universities have started offering courses on e-sports.

Becoming a professional player might require something like 10 hours of daily practice.

Crucial skills for successful players are superior reflexes for quickly operating a keyboard and the ability to immediately grasp the opponent’s tactics and quickly craft effective strategies to counter them in order to secure victory.

It is said that most world leading e-sports players are aged 16 to 24, and this category of sports already has its own profound and vast universe of skills and expertise.

Japan lags well behind the world's best in e-sports. Seiichiro Kakei, a senior executive of Japan e-Sports Association, says in e-sports the huge popularity of home video game consoles and smartphone games in Japan has caused the country to lag behind Western countries where personal computers are more widely used for gaming.

Over the past several years, however, e-sports have become a lot more popular in Japan. National championships for some have started, while professional leagues have also been launched.

A vocational school in Tokyo has even set up a course to train players.

It is hard not to wonder whether it is possible that electronic soccer and basketball events in the Olympics may attract more fans than their physical counterparts.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 5

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.