Yesterday, in a landmark decision, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it will partner with five international sports federations and game publishers to produce the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS), the first-ever Olympic-licensed event for physical sports and not. – physical virtual sports. And for fans of driving games, the addition of the world’s best-selling driving simulator game, Gran Turismo, and its collaboration with the FIA, is a must-see feature.
The IOC’s announcement of course implies that the Games will take place, even taking into account Japan’s less than satisfactory Covid response. IOC President Thomas Bach, who is due to arrive in Japan for final preparations in mid-May and appears determined to host the event, must worry that local infection rates are reaching record highs as the government plans to impose a second state of emergency next week, when only 1% of the country’s 125 million people have been vaccinated so far.
Organized ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which is still the name of the Games which will begin on July 23, 2021, the OVS will begin on May 13 and will continue until June 23, 2021. The Olympic Virtual Series will mobilize fans of virtual sports, esports and games around the world in order to reach new Olympic audiences, while encouraging the development of physical and non-physical forms of sports in accordance with IOC recommendations.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The Olympic Virtual Series is a unique new digital Olympic experience that aims to increase direct engagement with new audiences in the field of virtual sports. Its design is in line with the Olympic Agenda 2020 + 5 and the IOC’s digital strategy. It encourages sports participation and promotes the Olympic values, with particular emphasis on youth.
In addition to the FIA-Gran Turismo collaboration for driving games, the Olympic Virtual Series also includes the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) played via eBaseball Powerful Pro Baseball 2020 on Konami Digital Entertainment’s platform, Union Cycliste International (UCI) via Zwift Inc., World Rowing on an open format and World Sailing using Virtual Regatta SAS.
According to yesterday’s IOC statement, the OVS is creating a stage to connect the world of physical sport with the virtual and simulation sports games community, providing an opportunity to engage with the Olympic Movement. The Mass Participation Series will allow participants from all over the world to compete from their homes or training facilities with the aim of generating positive preparation for the Games.
The IOC says more information on how to participate, as well as the prices included in some events, will be announced shortly. Hopefully, these virtual events aren’t the only Olympic ones taking place and that real athletes can participate in real events.