If it weren’t for the global Covid pandemic, DOTA 2's big championship, The International, would have been held in Sweden in 2020. Now, in 2021, it’s not going to be held in Sweden again, but this time for more administrative reasons.
As Valve outline in a blog post, Sweden still has a number of stringent restrictions in place regarding public gatherings, which would otherwise threaten the ability to hold a big in-person tournament like The International, even though elite sporting events have been excluded from these.
Valve claims that as planning continued local authorities “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.”
Only now it doesn’t. The Swedish Sports Federation voted this week to not allow membership to any esports organisations, which means an esports tournament would not be granted the same exemptions as, say, elite football matches currently enjoy. This means the event couldn’t take place at all, because visas for international players would be denied, and many fans would face insurmountable restrictions getting into the country.
Not wanting to give up, Valve instead asked Sweden’s Minister of the Interior to “reclassify The International - Dota 2 Championships as an elite sporting event.” Which he immediately refused. They then appealed directly to the Swedish government, and were knocked back again.
So now, as July approaches, Valve has decided to all but abandon their Swedish plans and start “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.”
Valve says they’re committed to hosting the tournament in Europe this year regardless of what happens, and that, “We remain committed to hosting The International this year in a way that is both safe for all involved, and properly celebrates the players and fans of Dota 2.”