Speech by Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry, at the Olympic Esports Week Forum
23 June 2023
A warm welcome to Singapore! We are honoured to be the first host city of the very first Olympic Esports Week (OEW).
So why Singapore and why Olympic Esports?
In a room full of eSports and Gamers, allow me to use an analogy that we all can relate to.
First, think of Singapore as a platform to host games. Then think of the IOC as a game developer. Think of the Olympic Esports Week as your content today.
IOC was looking for a platform to test and showcase its content. And it decided to choose Singapore. And in fact, this isn’t the first time it’s done so.
It is the 2nd time IOC is partnering Singapore to host an Olympic event. The first was in 2010 when we worked with IOC to welcome the world to the first ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG). Back then, YOG was the content.
Since the inaugural YOG in Singapore in 2010, YOG has developed into the premier elite sporting event for young athletes from all over the world. Think about Nanjing 2014 and Buenos Aires 2018, and with Dakar hosting the next one in 2026. And then we’ve had a little bit of a break because of COVID-19. The birth place of YOG was right here in Singapore!
Thank you IOC for choosing Singapore as the platform to pilot your latest content – the first-ever Olympic Esports Week (OEW). A big round of applause for IOC.
So I think we must be an attractive platform to be chosen. And as what we do in Singapore, we aim to not disappoint. We want to make it well run. We want to test new concepts, we want to break new ground. We want to be a test bed, a sand box, an incubator.
If you think about what we’ve done, and this is something close to my heart. We always talked about this with the F1 race as an example – no one thought that we would have F1 cars racing in a city and no one thought that we would have the race at night, but it happened in 2008. And we started to iterate and iterate, and now into the 13th iteration of F1. And that’s what our ambitions are – for Singapore to do it well, break new ground and hopefully to make it even better.
The OEW is an exciting new content that’s chosen a dynamic platform in Singapore. But it’s not the only content in town. The OEW complements other exciting content that we already have in Singapore. Our content library is rich with major sporting events. And we are a premier location at the heart of Southeast Asia, a rapidly growing and esports loving Southeast Asia.
Let me share some other content we have in our content library. We have our recently concluded Singapore Badminton Open, F1 Grand Prix will be in September, Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon at the end of this year, and we will also be hosting the World Aquatics Championships in 2025. Singapore is a bustling city of events and activities – and we welcome all of you, our foreign guests, our local guests, friends from the region to come back again!
Content like these and OEW bring our communities together, where people from all over the region and the world can connect and bond, where international sport federations and local and regional businesses can come together to explore the nexus of physical as well as virtual sports.
As I mentioned, we are in beta version, and we want to get better.
Many in this room may remember the early consoles and games.
OEW is like FIFA or Links or Zelda. We are at the beginning, and we will iterate over time. The graphics will improve, gameplay physics, sound, connectivity, low latency. OEW Singapore 2023 will look very different many iterations later.
We are also creating history by using the best of the tech we have on offer, beyond our screens, beyond consoles, beyond our LED screens.
For example, with advent of more sophisticated software and equipment, our gaming experiences are more realistic and immersive, expanding the possibilities for esports and virtual sports. The meeting of real and virtual worlds. How?
We can now get physical with more options such as active virtual sports, we’re showcasing many of those titles this week;
Then there is elite physical sports athletes can improve their performances with the help of integrated esports and virtual technology;
Esports athletes can interact and spar with one another more easily and frequently;
And we can also use tech to be even more inclusive, to allow for sports to be enjoyed by people regardless of abilities. An example of this is virtual taekwondo, where one-on-one, non-contact sparring is possible, regardless of physical abilities, weight class and location;
In fact, one of the things that we talked about in the steering committee is also to open this opportunity for people with disabilities to enable them to can play and compete with their able bodied counterparts;
Finally, we can also unlock new job options and careers, from software development and event management to shoutcasters, coaches and community managers for games and tournaments producers.
So our content library is rich and growing and we are only in beta mode.
Singapore wants to be a platform of choice. A PlayStation 5 - for great content like OEW to count as a home. We want to take pole position in this new and exciting field, and we are building up our street cred – both virtually and physically. We want to be a regional hub and sandbox for developers, where start-ups and businesses can showcase their innovative tech and new products.
We want to be a “Grand Slam” venue for esports and virtual sports.
And we are on a “killstreak” for now. We’re improving our platform.
Singapore is home to more than 200 game-developing and publishing companies. Making us one of Asia’s leading sport, media and entertainment hubs;
Of the ten sport titles offered at OEW, two were developed by local game developers (Virtual Taekwondo and Tic Tac Bow). I have no doubt that we will see more
In conclusion, as we dive into the forum discussions today, let’s keep an open mind and explore the exciting potential of this nexus between physical and virtual sports.
I look forward to gaining more XP from our fruitful discussion later on the different aspects of esports, such as (i) tech and development, (ii) diversity, equity and inclusion, (iii) health and clean esports and (iv) player welfare.
Thank you and enjoy your day here! And Welcome to Singapore!