Gran Turismo to feature in new Olympic virtual games

Sim racing is to feature in the Olympics for the first time, with a Gran Turismo competition being chosen to form part of a new virtual games.

An Olympic Virtual Series (OVS) has been announced to take place ahead of the delayed Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year. It will begin on May 13 and run through to June 23.

The International Olympic Committee has teamed up with the governing bodies of a range of sports to incorporate different competitions, with the FIA being one of them.

As well as there being baseball, cycling, rowing and sailing competitions, the IOC has announced that there will be a motorsport element, and Gran Turismo has been chosen.

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."

The IOC has said that each competition will ensure a format that maximises online mass participation, and it is hoped the Virtual Games will ramp up interest in sport again ahead of the start of the Tokyo 2020 event.

No further details of the format of the Gran Turismo competition have been announced yet, but the FIA has long been involved in the PlayStation game's Nations' Cup and Manufacturers' Series.

Gran Turismo has sold more than 80 million games since it was first launched back in 1997, making it the biggest PlayStation franchise.

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Speaking to Motorsport.com last year, Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi said he believed the growth in sim racing was essential for helping real world motorsport survive.

"This is something that that we need to do to ensure the survival of motorsports in the future," he said. "This activity, all the different things that we're doing, is something that's necessary to keep it going.

"It's not like we're working to defeat or exceed the current existing motorsports. This is all a part of the effort to keep it going and make it something that's everlasting."

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