The Olympics have entered the metaverse. Today, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the Olympics Esports Series, a “global virtual and simulated sports competition” with nine disciplines—including cycling,—brought to you by the UCI and Zwift.

The initially confirmed games include Cycling (Zwift), Archery (Tic Tac Bow), Baseball (WBSC eBASEBALL™: POWER PROS), Chess (, Dance (Just Dance), Motorsport (Gran Turismo 7), Taekwondo (Virtual Taekwondo), Tennis (Tennis Clash) and Sailing (Virtual Regatta).

And yes, we’re kind of excited to see how virtual sailing happens.

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The finals will—strangely enough—take place life in Singapore from June 22 to 25. They will be streamed globally across and the Olympic social channels.

“The Olympic Movement brings people together in peaceful competition. The Olympic Esports Series 2023 is a continuation of that, with the ambition of creating more spaces to play for both players and fans of elite competition,” David Lappartient, UCI President and Chair of the IOC Esports Liaison Group, said in the press release. “We look forward to witnessing some of the world’s best compete on the global stage, as well as exploring together shared opportunities and lessons - across health and wellbeing, training and innovation.”

On Twitter, esport fans have taken umbrage with the list of sports, pointing out that ‘esports’ often refers to competitive video game playing, not literal sports taken into virtual reality. And of course, jokes abounded from millennials who remember spending most of our quarters at arcades and movie theaters on Dance Dance Revolution, never realizing that it could help us achieve Olympic glory:

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This is the second time that the series has run, but this iteration adds more professionalism and less open participation. The Olympic Virtual Series was first run in 2021 ahead of the Tokyo games, and it attracted over 250,000 participants from across 100 countries to take part in competitions. According to Zwift, over 77,000 participants rode over 1.9 million miles during the series in 2021.

So, can you race this time? Probably not: Competitors qualified through the Zwift Grand Prix and the 2023 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships, which means there will not be an open qualifier. There are eight men and eight women who will be competing—likely including freshly crowned UCI Cycling Esports World Champions Bjørn Andreassen and Loes Adegeest.

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Molly Hurford

Molly writes about cycling, nutrition and training, with an emphasis on women in sport. Her new middle-grade series, Shred Girls, debuts with Rodale Kids/Random House in 2019 with "Lindsay's Joyride." Her other books include "Mud, Snow and Cyclocross," "Saddle, Sore" and "Fuel Your Ride." Her work has been published in magazines like Bicycling, Outside and Nylon. She co-hosts The Consummate Athlete Podcast.