Events & Tournaments

Two Games in the Olympic Esports Series Highlight Ties Between Global Esports Federation and Refract Technologies

Published by
James Fudge

According to the investigative work of several users in a Reddit thread on r/esports, two of the games chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the Olympic Esports Series announced earlier this week have direct ties to the Global Esports Federation. Those two games, Virtual Taekwondo and Tic Tac Bow, were developed by Refract Technologies, a Singapore-based development studio. The latter was released only a few months ago, has pay-to-win components, and has about 5K in downloads to date on the Google Play store for Android devices.

The Esports Advocate has learned that three executives with ties to Singapore-based Refract Technologies—CEO and Co-founder Michael Chng, Executive Director and Co-Founder Chong Geng Ng, and Co-Founder Eugene Koh— also have ties to either the Global Esports Federation, Singapore Esports Association, or both. 

Chong Geng Ng is a co-founder and board member of the Global Esports Federation and president of the Singapore Esports Association (SGEA). Michael Chng is a member of the “Digital, Technology & Innovation Commission” of the Global Esports Federation. 

Eugene Koh is a founding member of both the Singapore Cybersports & Gaming Association (SCOGA) and Singapore Esports Association (SGEA).

TEA has also learned that Chris Chan, the current president of the Global Esports Federation, is also the secretary general of the Singapore National Olympic Council, which had decision making power on the selection of games that were chosen for the Olympic Esports Series.

The Reddit discussion thread does not list Chong Geng Ng, redacting his name because they were not sure “if he’s enough of a public figure to not run afoul of doxxing rules.” Given that he is an executive at a company that makes video games, a member of two federations with influence over esports as it relates to the IOC, and the information is publicly available on multiple platforms, TEA believes it is in the public’s interest to publish his name.

Further investigation reveals that back in July of 2021 when the Global Esports Federation announced that World Taekwondo had joined the group as a member, it also announced that it had appointed “Refract as Global Partner for Interactive Technology to pioneer active esports worldwide.”

From the July 13, 2021, press release:

Refract, the newly appointed Global Partner for Interactive Technology, meanwhile, creates opportunities through gaming and entertainment to extend human experience beyond reality. The company conceptualizes and builds products to support and pioneer active gaming and active esports.

“Refract believes the gap of physical activity between video games and traditional sports can be bridged by technology. We are developing technologies for a future where playing video games and being physically active are not mutually exclusive,” said Michael Chng, Chief Executive Officer, Refract Technologies Pte Ltd.”

What is unclear at this time is how these games were selected in the first place, who submitted titles for approval, and if Refract’s titles received preferential treatment because board and committee members had financial ties to Refract and the Global Esports Federation.

A source familiar with the situation told TEA Saturday that during meetings of the now defunct Esports Liaison Group (ELG), an IOC member was asked about the inclusion of non-violent, sports associated games like Rocket League and Street Fighter. They were dismissed as being too fantastical and unrealistic, and did not promote real life sports.

It should also be noted that Vincent Pereira, head of esports at the IOC, claimed in a Twitter thread (responding to popular esports caster and host Frankie Ward and esports analyst Jess Bolden) that the Global Esports Federation was not involved in the process of selecting games. It is clear that Global Esports Federation members played some sort of role in getting both games in front of the selection committee.

TEA has reached out to the Global Esports Federation for further comment. TEA also reached out to Vincent Pereira, who could not respond at the time of writing because he is currently traveling, but promised to issue a statement to us in a few days.

This is a developing story…

James Fudge

With a career spanning over two decades in the esports and gaming journalism landscape, James Fudge stands as a seasoned veteran and a pivotal figure in the evolution of esports media. His journey began in 1997 at Game-Wire / Avault, where he curated gaming and community news, laying the groundwork for his expertise in the field. In his more recent roles, James cemented his status as an authority in the esports business sphere as Senior Editor Esports at Sports Business Journal and The Esports Observer between 2018 and 2021.

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