Just Dance, Gran Turismo feature in the Olympics’ latest stab at esports

The International Olympic Committee has announced the Olympic Esports Series, an esports competition that will include a dance event with Just Dance and races in Gran Turismo.

Nine virtual sports are featured, including archery, baseball, bicycling, sailing, taekwondo, and tennis. Also chess.

Qualifying events will be held in various video games over the next few months, the IOC said, ahead of the first-ever in-person finals in Singapore in June.

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This isn’t the first time the IOC has attempted esports. Back in 2021, it hosted the Olympic Virtual Series ahead of the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games. It featured four sports and didn’t make much of an impression.

This time, the IOC is involving other game publishers.

For example, Ubisoft handles Just Dance and selects a “talented pool of former top Just Dance World Cup athletes” who will receive a direct invite to the finals in Singapore.

Many of the Olympic Esports Series events will source their champions from mobile app players.

Cycling, for example, is being “reimagined” in Zwift, a massively multiplayer cycling and running app. Archery is represented by the new mobile app Tic Tac Bow, which combines “the traditional requirement for accuracy with the possibilities of the classic pen and paper game” noughts and sharps.

Tennis participants are found through the iPhone and Android title Tennis Clash. (Surely we could have had Wii Sports?)

“The Olympic Movement brings people together in peaceful competition,” said David Lappartient, Chair of the IOC’s Esports Liaison Group.

“The Olympic Esports Series 2023 is a continuation of that, with the goal of creating more scope for players and fans of elite competitions. We look forward to witnessing some of the world’s finest competitions on the global stage, exploring and sharing opportunities and lessons together – about health and well-being, training and innovation.”

Qualification for the Olympic Esports Series 2023 is now open and ends on May 15th. The finale of the event will then take place in person in Singapore from June 23rd to 25th.

In 2021, the Tokyo Olympics memorably featured a suite of video game music during its opening ceremony.


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