The Olympics are going virtual. In a landmark decision, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) will be hosting a virtual esports event, tied to the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Taking place ahead of the Tokyo Games, the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS) will be the first-ever, Olympic-licensed event for non-physical virtual sports; Including video games such as eBaseball, virtual regatta sailing, Gran Turismo motor racing, and Zwift’s bike racing platform.
This new development is in line with the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020+5, which sought to expand the Olympics into non-physical forms of sports and reach wider audiences.
“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," IOC President Thomas Bach said. "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."
This virtual element of the Olympics comes at a crucial time. The Tokyo Olympics have repeatedly been canceled, delayed, and stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The IOC's interest to dive into the virtual medium could create the much-needed buzz for the Olympics among the youth and communities such as video gaming fanatics.
The Olympic Virtual Series will kick off on May 13 and run until June 23.