eSports players

The government of Ukraine has recognised esports as an official sports competition. 

The decision comes after a series of submissions and lobbying from multiple interested parties, and will see a five-year esports strategy pitched by the Ukrainian Professional Esports Association (UPEA) this month. 

Natus Vincere Esports Camp
Photo credit: ESL

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Recognition of esports as an official sports competition in the eastern European country was announced following a meeting of the Commission for Recognition of Sports.

The popularity and growth of esports in Ukraine and other nations in the region has meant that national bodies have been increasingly taking notice of the industry. However, a concerted effort to gain official sports competition recognition was made in recent months.

In July, Natus Vincere Founder, Oleksandr Kokhanovsky and a cohort of Ukrainian IT professionals purchased the Dnipro Hotel in the nation’s capital, Kyiv for roughly $41 million (~£31,566,021). According to Kokhanovsky, the investment group aims to “turn it into the world’s first-ever hotel fully designed to host esports events. There will be training areas, an esports arena, special rooms for professional players” and an exclusive players’ lounge.

Additionally, The Ukrainian Esports Federation (UESF) submitted an application on August 17 to the Ministry of Youth and Sports which lead to the official recognition of esports as a sports competition in the country. 

On the decision, Deputy Minister for Digital Transformation, Oleksandr Borniakov commented that “This is a historic moment for our country. After all, esports has long ceased to be just about ‘shooters,’ but a fundamental element of modern digital culture. About 600 million people admire it, including millions of Ukrainians. Besides, Ukraine has a high culture of esports, as well as strong players. Our teams regularly win various tournaments around the world. The industry has long turned into a real business that brings many benefits and opportunities, both locally and globally.”

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Stakeholders in the space have been quick to build on this latest development. The Ukrainian Professional Esports Association is due to deliver a conference on September 17 that outlines its vision and strategy for the industry over the next five years. 

Esports Insider says: Government recognition of esports in Ukraine is a big boon for stakeholders in the nation. It can aid lobbying with partners, securing investment and building an organisation’s reputation with endemic and non-endemic actors alike. It will definitely be worth tracking what the UPEA’s 5-year plan looks like and how the Dnipro Hotel venture turns out. 

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