Valve’s plans to hold the finals of their Dota 2 championship The International in Stockholm seem dead after the Swedish Sports Federation voted against esports being accepted as an ‘elite sport’. The classification was vital to secure the same travel exemptions that other sports have during the Covid-19 pandemic. An appeal to the Swedish government was denied, which seems to shut the door on the event’s initial location. Valve have committed to holding the event somewhere “in Europe this year”.
According to the Dota 2 blog, “Stockholm Live and Visit Stockholm continued to reassure us in our regular and constant communications with them that The International - Dota 2 Championships qualified for the same exemptions other elite sporting events there received.
“However, despite previous reassurances, we were informed two weeks ago that the Swedish Sports Federation had just voted not to accept esports into the sports federation.”
Valve subsequently applied to the Swedish Minister of the Interior to have the decision reversed, but that was rejected. Without a visa specifically allowing entry for the event, there’s no way that players and support staff from outside the EU could be guaranteed passage into the country.
Though they still seem hopeful of holding the event in Sweden (I can't see how), they’re also planning on holding it elsewhere: “As a result, and in light of the current political situation in Sweden [the Prime Minister just lost a no confidence vote yesterday], we have started looking for possible alternatives elsewhere in Europe to host the event this year, in case the Swedish government is unable to accommodate The International - Dota 2 Championships as planned. We feel confident that in either instance we will have a solution that allows us to hold TI10 in Europe this year, and that we will be able to announce an updated plan in the very near future.”
Despite all this, the qualifiers are going to start in July on the 23rd. Where they’ll eventually lead to is anyone’s guess. My vote is New Zealand, with Gabe waiting at the airport and welcoming everyone with cake.