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The democratization of the Virtual Sports

The democratization of the Virtual Sports

We live in a new normal, one that was just anticipated in something that would happen in some way or another. 

 In an increasingly connected world, where global audiences are rapidly changing their consumption habits, the sport will also have to adapt to these changes.

 The big dilemma, until then, would be how to introduce electronic sports to sports considered conventional, but this fell to the ground, since technology now allows us to simulate reality in an augmented form with the same physical effort as outdoor sports.

 As an amateur triathlon athlete since 1994, international triathlon referee, state road cycling referee and sporting event producer, I was able to follow a lot the evolution of some sports in this new technological era, but especially cycling.

 Without a doubt, cycling is the most democratic modality for the insertion of virtualized sports, or electronic sports, in the Olympic scenario, demonstrating that human beings and machines can interact, without losing their essence and values.

 On April 22, 2021, the International Olympic Committee announced the holding of the Olympic Virtual Series, a series of virtualized competitions that encompass Cycling, Rowing, Motorsport, Regatta and Baseball, with the aim of encouraging the development of physical and sporting forms. non-physical activities in line with the recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020 + 5.

 But how can we say that this is a democratization of modalities?

 Let's look at the organizational and operational perspective; today the model of selective competitions requires the displacement of athletes to competition venues, transport logistics, accommodation, among others, increasing costs for such actions, so why not reduce these costs having an even greater effect on the spectator public through from streaming platforms?

 See the example of the 1st World Virtual Cycling Championship held by the UCI in 2020; all athletes in their homes, using the same equipment and competition software, being broadcast in real time and with an audience, up to the moment of 98,546 views on Youtube.

 In Brazil, the Brazilian Virtual Cycling Championship – Brasília Stage 2021, which featured the 1st augmented reality course in Latin America, had a spectator audience of over 4,500 spectators through Youtube and Instagram simultaneously, having the same format as the athletes they didn't need to move to compete.

 When we talk about the qualifying process for competitions, why not go further, and this time I will use Triathlon as a model; suppose an athlete needs to do a classification by time, being 750m swimming, 20km cycling and 5km running. The question is: Will it be by time independent of the path altimetry or with a pre-determined altimetry?

 In the past, yes, we could argue that it would not be fair for athletes in different locations to conduct a selective in this format, as the altimetry and locations for taking time would be divergent, but no more... as today this can all be done within an academy, but how? Simple...a swimming pool, a training roller with software and determined path and even an interconnected treadmill that simulates all the altimetry as well; of course using video proof and even a local operation integrated with the sports federations to validate the results.

 And what about hybrid events? Why not hold a Grand Fondo Cycling event simultaneously in person and with the same virtualized route for athletes who cannot travel? Of course with awards in different "categories", but it is possible that the competition date, start time and route are the same.

 We still have a lot to evolve and break paradigms and myths about electronic sports, especially those involving traditional sports integrated with the virtual ecosystem, but we are on a path with no return, where physical and non-physical modalities will be complementary.


 Schubert Abreu

 Director of Virtualized Sports – Wesco

 Brazilian Virtual Cycling Technical Director

 Marvel/DC fan and JEDI apprentice




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