Explaining the Olympic Virtual Series and esports’ Olympic future

Olivia Richman • April 24, 01:28

The International Olympic Committee has been contemplating adding video games to its coveted list of sports for the past few years. It’s now getting one step closer with the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS), the first-ever Olympic-licensed event “for physical and non-physical virtual sports.” 

According to an official press release on the Olympic website, the IOC is partnering with five International Sports Federations and game publishers to produce the Olympic Virtual Series. It will include virtual video games that depict popular sports, including baseball, cycling, rowing, sailing, and motor sport. 

The OVS will take place on May 13 before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which will begin on June 23. 

Olympic Virtual Series encourages future of esports at Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee explained that the virtual event will “encourage the development of physical and non-physical forms of sports.” It will mobilize virtual sport, esports, and gaming enthusiasts across the world, they continued, to reach a new Olympic audience. IOC president Thomas Bach called it’s a “unique experience” that will promote Olympic values to youth viewers. 

David Lappartient, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale, also expressed excitement about the Olympic Virtual Series and the potential for esports future at the Olympic Games.

“On behalf of the ELG, as well as the UCI, I am delighted to be involved in the launch of the first-ever Olympic Virtual Series. A number of IFs have well established virtual sports initiatives; and thanks to the cooperation between the IOC, the IFs, and the publishers, the OVS is an exciting step forward for the virtual sports world and the Olympic Movement,” Lappartient said.

What games will be in the Olympic Virtual Series?

The following International Federations and gaming publishers will take part in the Olympic Virtual Series, bringing a virtual sport game to the Olympic event: 

  • World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) – eBaseball Powerful Pro Baseball 2020, Konami Digital Entertainment
  • Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) – Zwift, Zwift inc.
  • World Rowing – Open format
  • World Sailing – Virtual Regatta, Virtual Regatta SAS
  • Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) – Gran Turismo, Polyphony Digital

Each event will allow participants around the world to compete from home or their training facilities. All five OVS events will “differ in form and concept,” operating via each publishers’ platform. Fans will also be able to engage with the event by following it on the Olympic Channel. There will be more information on how to participate soon. There will also be news about prizes for the events. 

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