We didn't see this coming either.
Gran Turismo Sport has helped blur the lines between real and virtual racing thanks to online championships that are officially sanctioned by the FIA, the governing body of Formula One and other global motorsports. The influential GT Academy has also helped discover new racing talent, turning gamers into real racing drivers. As part of the Gran Turismo World Championship, two tournaments are held every year: the Nations Cup and the Manufacturers Cup. The winners are honored at the FIA's annual award ceremony in Paris.
Now, Gran Turismo is being turned into an Olympic Sport. For the first time, International Olympic Committee is hosting an Olympic Virtual Series between May 13 and June 23 as a separate competition to the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games (it was supposed to be 2020, but the pandemic pushed it back a year). Five virtual competitions will be held representing multiple virtual sports including baseball, cycling, rowing, and sailing competitions, along with motorsport. As you've probably guessed, Gran Turismo Sport will be used for the latter category.
The other sports are a staple of the Olympic Games, so it's surprising to see motorsport represented in the virtual Olympic competition.
"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," said IOC's president Thomas Bach. "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."
"A number of [international sports federations] have well established virtual sports initiatives; and thanks to the cooperation between the IOC, the IFs and the publishers, the OVS is an exciting step forward for the virtual sports world and the Olympic Movement," David Lappertient, chair of the IOC's e-sports gaming liaison group added.
No specific details have been released about the Gran Turismo Sport Olympic competition, but the fact that the International Olympic Committee now sees eSports as legitimate is a big deal. Details on how to enter the Olympic Virtual Series will be announced at a later date, but the Gran Turismo competition will likely be accessed through the game's online Sport mode if you want to try it out.
We'll have to wait and see which cars will be used in the competition, but Gran Turismo Sport has hundreds to choose from including the Toyota GR Supra and several Vision GT cars designed by manufacturers specifically for the game. The new Toyota GR 86 will also make its racing game debut in Gran Turismo Sport later this year.