World Sailing, supported by Virtual Regatta, the leading digital sailing platform, have partnered with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to join the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS).
Olympic Virtual Series
The first ever Olympic-licensed event for physical and non-physical virtual sports will mobilise virtual sport and gaming enthusiasts all around the world in order to reach new Olympic audiences. Taking place from 13 May through to 23 June 2021, the OVS will also encourage the development of physical and non-physical virtual forms of sports, with a focus on regulating fair competition and respecting the values of sport in these virtual forms, in line with the recommendations of the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020+5.
Other International Federations participating in the OVS include the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), World Rowing (WR), and Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
World Sailing will run a series of Inshore events and one longer Offshore event on Virtual Regatta.
Starting on 20 May, the Inshore series will begin with three qualifier events, each one in a different Olympic discipline – the 49er, ILCA Dinghy and Nacra 17.
Each of these qualifiers will include a practice stage, a qualification stage and a final stage.
Following these three Qualifiers, an additional week-long mixed-class Qualifier will run at the same time as the Sailing event at Tokyo 2020.
A mixed-class Grand Final will then be held on 4 August, inviting the top 20 players to compete.
Details on the Inshore series are as follows:
- Olympic Virtual Series, Qualifier 1: ILCA Dinghy, 20 – 25 May
- Olympic Virtual Series, Qualifier 2: 49er, 3 – 6 June
- Olympic Virtual Series, Qualifier 3: Nacra 17, 17 – 23 June
- Tokyo 2020, Qualifier 4: Mixed Olympic Classes, 23 July – 3 August
- Olympic Grand Final: Mixed Olympic Classes, 4 August
The Offshore event, ‘Race to Tokyo 2020,’ will be a race from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, home of the last Olympic Games in 2016, to Tokyo, home of the next Olympic Games.
This will start on 28 May, with those in the leading pack likely to finish in around 26 days, and will be raced in a customed-designed ultra-fast Ultime boat.
Competitors have the option to race in four different routes to get to Tokyo. Players can choose to go round either Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope, or race through the Arctic in an easterly or westerly direction – so the decision on the fastest route is down to the sailors themselves.
David Graham, Chief Executive Officer at World Sailing, said, “We are delighted that sailing will be amongst the first virtual sports taking part in the Olympic Virtual Series, something which has never been done before.
“Since we joined forces with Virtual Regatta in 2018 to launch the inaugural eSailing World Championship, eSailing has gone from strength to strength, and has experienced huge growth in particular over the last 12 months.
“We are really looking forward to launching the competition following a close collaboration with the IOC and other key Sports Federations that are taking part. We are excited to see the impact of this new Virtual Olympic Series and the subsequent engagement and promotion it can offer.”
Scott Over, Commercial Director at World Sailing, said, “With the sailing community unable to get on the water in 2020, eSailing became a great way for experienced sailors and new players alike to build online communities and learn more about the sport, at a time where real-life competition was hit hard.
“Following the success of the 2020 Virtual Vendée Globe, which boasted over 1 million players, we are looking forward to welcoming back eSailors for the next major instalment.
“At World Sailing we are keen to continue this growth, and being part of the Olympic Virtual Series in full alignment with the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020+5 will enable us to do that.”
Philippe Guigné, CEO and Founder of Virtual Regatta, said, “It is very exciting for Virtual Regatta to be involved in such a huge project with the IOC.
“Our partnership with World Sailing continues to grow and develop, and we have relished welcoming new players to the sport, as well as ensuring our regular eSailors are continuing to enjoy all aspects of Virtual Regatta.
“By being part of this new Olympic Virtual Series, we hope to elevate eSailing to new heights, and attract and engage eSailors worldwide so that even more people can experience the joy of sailing virtually.”
IOC President Thomas Bach said, “The Olympic Virtual Series is a new, unique Olympic digital experience that aims to grow direct engagement with new audiences in the field of virtual sports. Its conception is in line with Olympic Agenda 2020+5 and the IOC’s digital strategy. It encourages sports participation and promotes the Olympic values with a special focus on youth.”