For the first time ever, the Olympics will include a special series of online competitions — the Olympic Virtual Series. People worldwide are invited to join or watch the events on the Olympic Channel, according to Olympics.com.
The Olympic Virtual Series began qualification rounds on May 13 and will conclude with final competitions on June 23, Olympic Day, according to Olympics.com.
- The traditional Olympic events will begin in Tokyo on July 23 after being delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Deseret News reported.
What is the Olympic Virtual Series?
The Olympic Virtual Series includes five events: motorsports, sailing, baseball, rowing and cycling. These are not medaled events, according to The Verge.
- This lineup differs from video game esports, like “League of Legends” or “Overwatch.” Instead, the IOC chose to focus on virtual versions of physical sports, reports The Verge.
How can you watch (or join) the Olympic Virtual Series?
All final events on June 23, Olympic Day, will be broadcast live on the Olympic Channel.
Two sports have finished qualification rounds:
- Virtual Motorsports on Gran Turismo will have its top 16 competitors race on Olympic Day, said Olympics.com.
- Virtual Baseball will have its top 11 competitors from the baseball tournament and top eight competitors from the home run derby play on Olympic Day, said Olympics.com.
Three sports remain open for participation:
- Virtual Cycling welcomes anyone to join anytime for chase rides on Zwift, said Olympics.com. The rides culminate with live coverage of June 18 chase rides and Olympic Day 24-hour chase rides.
- Virtual Rowing welcomes anyone to join anytime and row from Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo, says Olympics.com. Rowers will support the Olympic Refuge Foundation, a charitable cause providing support for displaced youth through sports.
- Virtual Sailing on Virtual Regatta involves Offshore and Inshore events, says Olympics.com. The Offshore event — sailing from Rio to Tokyo — already set sail. Anyone can still join the shorter Inshore events this month.
The rowing and cycling events require participants to use physical equipment, says The Verge.
What’s the future of the Olympic Virtual Series?
The IOC has indicated that virtual sports will have a growing role in the Olympics, reports The Verge. Although far from confirmed, virtual versions of physical sports could become medalled events for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.