ICYMI: Sim Racing Planned for Upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games

By Colin Wood
Apr 27, 2021 | Sim Racing, olympics, Gran Turismo

Photograph Courtesy Gran Turismo

The International Olympic Committee announced plans to introduce the Olympic Virtual Series for baseball, cycling, rowing, sailing and motorsports.

While we can understand introducing digital versions of popular Olympic sports, the addition of virtual motorsports is an unexpected–although interesting–move for the IOC.

Specifically, the Olympic Virtual Series is meant to “mobilize virtual sport, esports and gaming enthusiasts all around the world in order to reach new Olympic audiences” in compliance with the IOC’s new “Agenda 2020+5,” which aims to bring back some sort of normalcy to the Olympics following the events of last year.

In order to better facilitate the OVS, the IOC is working closely with both international federations and gaming publishers for each discipline:

- World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) – eBaseball Powerful Pro Baseball 2020, Konami Digital Entertainment

- Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) – Zwift, Zwift inc.

- World Rowing - Open format

- World Sailing - Virtual Regatta, Virtual Regatta SAS

- Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) - Gran Turismo, Polyphony Digital

So yes, that means that this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo will feature individuals competing in Gran Turismo and sanctioned by the FIA.

Currently, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is scheduled for July 23 through August 8 of this year, having been postponed for 2020. The OVS is set to take place May 13-June 23, just before the Olympic Games.

For more information about the Olympic Virtual Series, like how to watch or how to participate, visit olympicchannel.com.

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
4/26/21 11:07 a.m.

So who is signing up to qualify? J.G.?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/26/21 11:28 a.m.

Prepare to qualify. 

AaronT Reader
4/26/21 12:05 p.m.

Weird, perhaps kind of cool. But Gran Turismo? That's a bummer on the choice of software.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
4/26/21 1:18 p.m.
AaronT said:

Weird, perhaps kind of cool. But Gran Turismo? That's a bummer on the choice of software.

100% my feelings as well. If it was one of the platforms used by the major sanctioning bodies currently (mostly iRacing or Assetto Corsa), I'd be really excited about going for it. I mean, there's like a .1% chance I'd get lucky enough to backdoor in somehow, but just to say I took part would be cool. But having to enter a whole other ecosystem that really doesn't carry over to my other sim racing seems cumbersome to me. 

Still... maybe I dust off that PS4 just to be able to tell my wife that I can't do yardwork because I have important Olympic Training...

300zxfreak Reader
4/26/21 5:24 p.m.

I'm sorry,  no matter how you slant this, SIM racing is NOT an Olympic sport. Next we'll be including Tiddly Winks and Checkers, give me a break.

I understand that SIM requires a great amount of skill, but it's just not a true athletic endeavor, unless compared to sofa spudding.

Sounds like we're getting into "participation trophies" at a much grander scale.


dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/27/21 12:45 p.m.

Has the most recent GT been released yet?  

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/27/21 12:54 p.m.

In my humble opinion, worth exactly what you're paying for it, no combination of sim racing, auto racing, or other e-sports (with the possible exceptions of "ergometer" type stuff like rowing and cycling) have any business with the IoC or vice versa.

There are sports which are real sports but which do not fit the sort of pure athleticism which is what the Olympics are about. To me. Sim racing isn't remotely athletic enough, and real auto racing is too much about equipment.

Duathlon type thing? Sim racing with a Le Mans start that's 5k long? I could try to dream up a way it could work, but my firm feeling is that it's just wrong. You can have international championships in anything you want, but it's not appropriate to do an Olympic version of every form of competition on Earth.

asphalt_gundam Reader
4/27/21 1:58 p.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :


Was just having a conversation earlier about how to involve more people in Motorsports and IMO the core problem is growing up with a screen constantly in your face. This is very evident on kids but easy to see in adults too. It has become the norm that "I must be entertained" and disappointingly the norm of that is "I'll do whatever is easiest/least amount of effort on my part". The large majority now days would rather sit on the couch than "go out" to do something fun. Some people literally have to be dragged to an event or outside activity just to realize that "oh this is fun".  So I'm not sorry in saying that virtual Olympics is BS. It has always been about what the human body is capable of, not what pressing some buttons can do. This feels more like the Olympics trying to cash in.

j_tso Reader
4/27/21 3:38 p.m.

I did not know there were sims of sailing, rowing, and cycling.

Rowing and cycling could be interesting. I'm thinking exercise machines hooked up to VR. Sailing and baseball sound boring. I guess for all of the above you could add a hurricane into the sim.

I was half expecting Street Fighter to be the first video game added to the olympics.  I read somewhere that by your late 20s your thumbs lose the dexterity to be in the international level tournaments.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/27/21 4:42 p.m.

^^ VV<><>BA (start)




Look cheating has always been part of the Olympics, don't hate the player, hate the game. (That PT Cruiser does look kinda like Ben Johnson in 1988). 

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