Is it time for eSports gamers to be recognised as athletes?

Visa issues are keeping many of the world’s best gamers from competing at top events – because eSports is not considered a ‘legitimate sport’ by US immigration

The competitive gaming community is eagerly anticipating a White House response to a petition asking eSports to be formally recognized as athletics. The petition specifically asked the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to recognize competitors as athletes in order for them to be eligible for P-1 visas, allowing them to compete for money at major tournaments. The petition surpassed the 100,000 signature threshold in under one month, warranting an official comment from the White House.

It was filed in response to the deportation of Sweden’s William “Leffen” Hjelte, who is currently ranked as the third best Super Smash Bros Melee player in the world. Visa issues have kept Hjelte from major tournaments since last October.

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