Esports is one step closer to becoming an actual sport in the Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee has announced that it will organize five esports events prior to the Tokyo Olympics starting in July. IOC will partner with International Sports Federations (IFs) and game publishers to create the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS). This is an Olympic-licensed event for physical and non-physical virtual sports.
The OVS is set to begin on May 13 - June 23, 2021. According to IOC, the Virtual Series will prepare virtual sport, esports and gaming enthusiasts all around the world in order to reach new Olympic audiences. It will also help in encouraging the development of physical and non-physical forms of sports around the world.
IOC President Thomas Bach put forward his opinion: “The Olympic Virtual Series is a unique Olympic digital experience that aims to grow direct engagement with new audiences in virtual sports. It encourages sports participation and promotes the Olympic values, focusing specially on youth.”
The OVS will feature the following International Federations and gaming publishers:
- 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
So far, the IOC has stated no medals for the winners in their respective competitions. However, they have hinted that there will be prizes for participants of the event.
A step forward with the OVS
David Lappartient, Chair of the IOC’s Esports and Gaming Liaison Group (ELG), expressed his excitement for the developments:
“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.”
David, who is also the President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) thanked 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” he added.
The concept of OVS has stirred the interest of other sports institutions like FIFA, FIBA and other governing bodies who supervise sports like tennis, and taekwondo. We might see the involvement of these federations in future OVS events.
DreamHack Sports Games will team up with IOC to help market the Olympic Virtual Series. The Denmark-based company runs sports simulation games, which help transform traditional sports into esports.
Although none of the events added to OVS are true esports titles, including virtual sport is a huge step forward for the gaming community to get recognized worldwide. IOC was previously reluctant to acknowledge the importance of esports, but this is a positive sign from the committee.