For most kids, it’s the lofty dream that hangs above their heads, inspiring every drawing and journal entry in school. That sport is often such a big part of our lives and social interactions, it’s not that surprising to think that those of us with a competitive drive would desire to compete on the world’s biggest stage - the Olympics. But as you quickly learn, to achieve such a feat requires unwavering dedication, sacrifice, and the kind of single-focus that most find difficult to sustain. Safe to say, these olympic dreams are traded early.
But if you still bemoan the genetics that meant you couldn’t quite become the basketball sensation you hoped you’d be, or the 100m sprint sensation you wanted to be, there’s still a chance you could win gold at the Olympics. The only difference is this time, you won’t be competing at the Olympics, but rather from the comfort of your own home.
It’s been announced that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will move into esports and virtual sports. The inaugural virtual series, which will kick off next month, will feature five sports: baseball, cycling, rowing, sailing and motor sport. It comes as part of a plan to grow new audiences for the IOC.
The IOC described the Olympic Virtual Series as a way to “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.”
Thomas Bach, IOC president, said the series is “a new, unique Olympic digital experience that aims to grow direct engagement with new audiences in the field of virtual sports,” adding: “It encourages sports participation and promotes the Olympic values, with a special focus on youth.”
As it stands, medals aren’t going to be awarded but according to The Guardian, a source has suggested that in the future medals could be awarded for “physical” virtual sport, like online rowing and cycling. That said, there won’t ever be gold medals for Overwatch or League of Legends, no matter how devout a player you are.