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Kyrgyz opera director sacked over cybersports event

AFP logoAFP 1/31/2019
Multiplayer online battle game Dota 2 is one of the leading brands in eSports © Fournis par AFP Multiplayer online battle game Dota 2 is one of the leading brands in eSports

The director of Kyrgyzstan's main opera hall was fired for allowing an eSports tournament to be held there, officials said on Thursday.

A scandal erupted in the Central Asian country after a national tournament devoted to the violent multiplayer computer game Dota 2 was staged at the Opera and Ballet Theatre in the capital Bishkek.

In an interview with AFP, Culture Minister Azamat Zhamankulov said Bolot Osmonov had been dismissed and appeared to suggest the tournament was the reason.

"Osmonov did not inform me about his intention to host cyber games in the theatre. I would not have given my consent," Zhamankulov told AFP.

Tair Beisheev, a well-known opera singer complained on January 19 -- the day of the tournament -- that "a terrible event" was taking place where "great names, the sons and daughters of Kyrgyzstan performed."

Osmonov had justified the move as a commercial opportunity for the theatre, which is funded from the strapped national budget, noting event sponsor Beeline -- a mobile operator -- had paid $300 per hour to rent the theatre.

Kyrgyzstan's prime minister signed off on Osmonov's dismissal on Thursday, a representative of the theatre said.

Multiplayer online battle game Dota 2 is one of the leading brands in eSports, a multi-million dollar industry with aspirations of Olympic representation.

Dota's equivalent of the Champions League, called The International (TI), had a prize pool of around $25 million in 2018.

While it is uncertain whether so-called eSports such as Dota 2 will ever feature at the Olympics, the commercial pull of the sector is undeniable.

In November last year, US fast food giant McDonald's announced it was ending a 15-year partnership with the German national football team to concentrate on eSports sponsorship.

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