The Olympics is making their first major foray into the world of virtual sports. Next month, the Olympic Virtual Series will be the first Olympic-licensed event to make use of virtual sports games.
Announced on the official Olympics website, the Olympic Virtual Series is meant to bring together eSports, virtual gaming, and video game fans and help the Olympics reach new audiences. The Series was developed as a response to Suggestion 9 in the Olympic Agenda 2020+5, which is a collection of suggestions for drawing viewers and reinforcing the role of sports in our post-pandemic future. With the pandemic having pushed many of us toward online gaming and interaction, making a move toward eSports seems like it'd be a natural move for the Olympic, although we'll still be seeing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics be held this Summer, so fans of the original Olympics can still have their pie and eat it.
What gaming publishers and IFs will be participating in the Olympic Virtual Series?
While the Olympic Virtual Series may make it sound like professional eSports are going to be a part of the Olympics, the selection is exclusively made up of realistic sports games. Other than Konami's Powerful Pro Baseball, the games are all very close to the real deal. The selection includes:
- World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) - eBaseball Powerful Pro Baseball 2020, Konami Digital Entertainment.
- Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) – Zwift, Zwift inc. (David Lappartient, the President of the UCI, is also the chair of the IOC's Esports and Gaming Liaison Group.)
- Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) - Gran Turismo, Polyphony Digital
- World Rowing - Open format
- World Sailing - Virtual Regatta, Virtual Regatta SAS
Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, added:
The Olympic Virtual Series is a new, unique Olympic digital experience that aims to grow direct engagement with new audiences in the field of virtual sports. Its conception is in line with Olympic Agenda 2020+5 and the IOC’s Digital Strategy. It encourages sports participation and promotes the Olympic values, with a special focus on youth.
The Olympic Virtual Series will be held from May 13 to June 23. Meanwhile, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will run from July 23, to August 8.