Ironically, the worst of times for modern humanity, has become an ultimate high for gaming, and with it Sim Racing. 2020 and 2021 have been crazy times for sim racing in general. What once started out as a very niche hobby has now turned into a mass market, and somewhat of a hype. Nevertheless, it seems that this popularity is here to stay. The global pandemic, and its restrictions, have resulted in the global acceptance of gaming being a sport.
The growth of popularity and interest for gaming and esports, has also increased the opportunities for everyone involved, and generated what now can be called a global sim racing industry. With the real-world motorsport associations now fully backing virtual racing, and embracing its business opportunities, more international organisations are looking at a piece of the cake, leading to some pretty surprising results.
The latest news confirms that sim racing, although in a limited form, will now become an official Olympic sport in which participants around the world can compete from home or their training facilities in an official Olympic event that aims to generate visibility towards the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that they have partnered with five International Sports Federations (IFs) and game publishers to organise the first ever licenced Olympic Virtual Series (OVS), physical and non-physical virtual sports. The OVS will be taking place ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, 13 May to 23 June 2021.
To do so, the IOC has appointed specialists in virtual sports, DreamHack Sports Games, for the marketing and production of the Olympic Virtual Series.
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
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.
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 www.olympicchannel.com
Official Webpages – www.olympic.org