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IOC makes landmark move into virtual sports by announcing first-ever Olympic Virtual Series

by International Olympic Committee 22 Apr 2021 09:42 BST
Olympic Virtual Series © IOC

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will partner with five International Sports Federations (IFs) and game publishers to produce the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS), the first-ever, Olympic-licensed event for physical and non-physical virtual sports.

Taking place ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the OVS will begin on 13 May, continuing through to 23 June 2021. The Olympic Virtual Series will mobilise virtual sport, esports and gaming enthusiasts all around the world in order to reach new Olympic audiences, while also encouraging the development of physical and non-physical forms of sports in line with the recommendations of the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020+5.

IOC President Thomas Bach said: "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."

David Lappartient, Chair of the IOC's Esports and Gaming Liaison Group (ELG), and President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), said: "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".

The following International Federations and gaming publishers will be part of the Olympic Virtual Series:

  • 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

The OVS creates a stage to connect the physical sporting world with the virtual and simulation sports gaming community, providing an opportunity to engage with the Olympic Movement. Each IF will offer its corresponding event in a format that maximises online mass participation and prioritises inclusivity and participation through the OVS. The mass-participation Series allows participants around the world to compete from home or their training facilities in order to generate excitement in the build-up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

All five OVS events will differ in form and concept, and will operate via the sport's respective publisher platform where participants will be able to take part. Fans will have the opportunity to engage and follow the events on the Olympic Channel. Additional information on how to participate, as well as prizes included with select events, will be announced soon. Information will also be available online at https://www.olympicchannel.com/

In line with Recommendation 9 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, which states "Encourage the development of virtual sports and further engage with video gaming communities", the launch of the first-ever OVS supports the IOC's Digital Strategy and aims to leverage the growing popularity of virtual sport to promote the Olympic Movement, Olympic values and sports participation and grow direct relations with young people. It supports the IFs in further establishing virtual and simulated forms of sports as a discipline within their regulations and strategies. Building on the success of their respective events, both the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), along with other International Federations such as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and World Taekwondo (WT) have confirmed their excitement and commitment to exploring inclusion in future editions of the OVS.

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