In November 2021, it was confirmed that China’s first major national virtual sports event would be launched in 2022.
Shanghai Jiushi Smart Sports Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Shanghai Jiushi Sports Industry Development (Group) Co Ltd, and Shanghai Science and Technology Sports Management Centre have confirmed that the Shanghai Virtual Sports Open will take place in 2022.
Called the Shanghai Virtual Sports Open, potential participants will be able to register in April 2022. The organising committee has already confirmed the event’s logo and theme slogan, while promotional posters for it have also begun to appear.
The event’s main co-organiser is Five Star Sports, and they will be assisted by the Shanghai Ice and Snow Sports Association, the Shanghai Cycling Association, the Shanghai Motorsports Association, Shanghai Boat Sports Association and Shanghai Esports Association.
Yang Yibin, general manager of Shanghai Jiushi Sports Industry Development and chairman of Shanghai Jiushi Smart Sports, was delighted with the event’s launch. He feels that virtual sports are a great way of engaging the younger generation, as well as offering a safe form of entertainment during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Under normalized epidemic prevention and control, the characteristics of virtual sports that can compete at different times and locations have more advantages than traditional sports games that require the same time and place,” he said.
Xu Zhigang, director of the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Sports Management Centre, highlighted that esports is growing ever more popular at rapid rates, while virtual sports allow the public to participate in events in a way that traditional sports do not allow them to do. There is also the potential to take the entertainment to the next level as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies develop.
Virtual sports have been identified by the Chinese authorities as a key strand of the country’s National Fitness Plan, which is scheduled to run from 2021 until 2025. This plan was instituted by the Chinese State Council in August, and aims to: “Provide smart services for national fitness, promote the development of online and smart sports events, and support the development of smart fitness, cloud events, virtual sports and other emerging sports.”
Virtual sports betting fans are sure to be excited by the new opportunities provided by this event, with a range of virtual sports markets on offer. The launch comes on the back of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hosting the first-ever Olympic Virtual Series.
This event included virtual cycling and motorsport, as well as baseball, sailing and rowing. This was seen as a key part of the Olympic 2020+5 Agenda, with a plank of the strategy around this concept being to encourage the development of virtual sports.
The Virtual Sports Open will join a prestigious list of other sports events that Shanghai has hosted. These include a Formula 1 Grand Prix, Tennis Masters events and major snooker tournaments. The Virtual Sports Open will include virtual versions of skiing, cycling, rowing, tennis and more.