Virtual sports betting fans will be delighted to learn that the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS) is set to return in 2022. Following the success of the same event last year, which saw 250,000 participants create over two million entire, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has noted how successful the inaugural event proved to be.
In April 2021, the IOC had confirmed that it would be officially moving into the sphere of virtual sports. The first edition of the OVS ran from May 13, 2021, until June 23, 2021, and saw five international sports governing bodies and game developers team up.
First Olympic event for virtual sports
2021 saw the first ever Olympic-licensed event for physical and non-physical virtual sports, and it utilised gaming platforms such as eBaseball Powerful Pro Baseball 2020, Zwift, Virtual Regatta, and Gran Turismo. World Rowing was listed as using an open format. The sports governing bodies that were involved included the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the International Cycling Union (UCI), World Rowing, World Sailing, and the International Automobile Federation (FIA)
The return of the OVS was confirmed at the recent Olympic summit, and the expectation is now that the OVS will become an annual event. The dates of the 2022 event and the sports involved will be confirmed in the first half of 2022.
There is a possibility that some new sports federations will be involved, with stakeholders looking to extend the reach of virtual sports and find new audiences for the concept. Back in April 2021, the IOC did state that FIFA, as well as the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), International Tennis Federation (ITF), and World Taekwondo (WT), had all expressed some measure of interest in “exploring inclusion” in the future editions of the OVS.
FIFA’s potential involvement will certainly be viewed with interest by the wider sporting world. Football remains the world’s most popular sport, and the game’s governing body remains one of the world’s major players and opinion-shifters on the global sporting stage.
The IOC is clearly committed to the concept of virtual sports. In October 2021, the governing body confirmed that it was on the hunt for a new head of virtual sports. The IOC sees virtual sports as a useful tool in growing the Olympic movement and better engaging young people.
Shanghai Virtual Sports Open to join OVS
Meanwhile, virtual sports betting fans will see another major event added to the growing calendar of virtual sports experiences in 2022. This is the Shanghai Virtual Sports Open, and registration will be open for potential participants in April 2022.
The event’s strapline is “Boundless Competition, to be launched at any time.” It will include skiing, racing, cycling, rowing, tennis, as well as other sports that are yet to be confirmed.
The development of such events highlights just how fast the concept of virtual sports is growing. With the COVID-19 pandemic far from over, and plenty of uncertainty remaining about the future shape of real-life sporting events in the shadow of the pandemic, virtual sports and esports look set to become key planks of the betting industry for many years to come.
In summer 2021, the finals of the Olympic Virtual Series baseball event were broadcast live on June 23. With commentary from the likes of G.G Sato, who played for Japan in the Olympic Games in 2008, this event received significant coverage – a sign of how the world of sports and sports betting is adjusting to esports and virtual sports becoming a permanent fixture of the global sporting landscape.