Video games will soon be taking centre stage at the first Olympic-licenced event for physical and non-physical virtual sports.

olympic virtual series logo
Credit: Olympic.org

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently announced that the event will be hosting its first-ever Olympic Virtual Series (OVS) to generate excitement for the build-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The OVS is intended to encourage the development of physical and non-physical forms of sports.

The event, which will be held from 13 May 2021 to 23 June 2021, is open to all “virtual sport, e-sports and gaming enthusiasts all around the world” while prioritising inclusivity. The participants are allowed to compete from home or their training facilities, assuming they have the right hardware and software to do so. However, the OIC has yet to share how to watch or participate in the Series and what sort of prizes will be up for grabs.

The OVS was created based on the IOC’s recommendations in its Olympic Agenda 2020+5. The IOC stated in its recommendations that it wants to grow a direct relation with today’s youth by leveraging the growing popularity of virtual sports to promote the Olympic movement, values and sports participation.

inaugural OVS
Zwift is an app where you connect your bike to a trainer to simulate roads, hills and even mountains
Credit: olympicchannel.com

The IOC also wants the OVS to “fill the gap” between virtual sports such as football and the Olympic games to create “valuable brand associations with International Federations (IFs) and their respective virtual sports”. The OIC also recommended considering the addition of physical virtual sports in the Olympic Programme in cooperation with the respective IFs. Whether this means that virtual sports might have a place in the actual Olympic games is still up for debate.

Although big e-sports games such as DOTA and Counter-Strike Global Offensive are not included in the list of video games to be played, the IOC will feature games from its partnership with the various game companies and International Sports Federations to produce the event. These games are:

  • World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) — eBaseball Powerful Pro Baseball 2020, Konami
  • 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

Written by John Paul Joaquin