First Olympic Virtual Series Wraps Up on Olympic Day - Federation Focus

Also: Volleyball World unveils “Equal Jersey” campaign; Michel Vion the new FIS Secretary General; Oman gets nod for sailing event

First Olympic Virtual Series Draws to a Close

The inaugural edition of the Olympic Virtual Series, the first ever IOC-licensed virtual sports competition, concluded on Wednesday with its Grand Finale events.

Held on Olympic Day one month before Tokyo 2020’s inauguration, competitive finals took place in four virtual sports: baseball, sailing, cycling and auto racing. A fifth sport, rowing, also had its closing "Row for a Cause" event to raise money for the Olympic Refuge Foundation.

The worldwide eSports series, which started on May 13 and was broadcast across major Olympic channels, stems from IOC and sporting federations’ efforts to expand mass participation in their events and further engage those in the gaming world.

"[The Series] has mobilised virtual sport, esports and gaming enthusiasts all around the world in order to reach new Olympic audiences, while also encouraging the development of physical and non-physical forms of sports in line with the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Agenda 2020+5", an IOC press release said.

"It was a tremendous honour to be a part of the first edition," Riccardo Fraccari, President of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, said of his sport’s inclusion. "Following the IOC’s lead and building off our successful debut at the Olympic Virtual Series, the WBSC will look to expand its presence in the eSports space, helping to unite, develop and serve a global community of potentially millions of baseball and softball gamers".

Over 125,000 games were played in the Series’ baseball competition; which comes after the WBSC approved virtual baseball and softball as official disciplines in December 2020.

Volleyball World Unveils ‘Equal Jersey’ Campaign

Volleyball World, volleyball’s global commercial entity, launches its ‘Equal Jersey’ campaign to promote gender equality in sport.

Planned for the 2021 Volleyball Nations League Finals on June 25-27, ‘Equal Jersey’ involves volleyball’s top male and female players with the same jersey number wearing each others’ names. The initiative aims to draw attention to gender disparities among athletes and showcase volleyball’s progress in addressing them.

"[Volleyball] is a sport where, on an international level, women and men compete on a level playing field, with equal opportunities, equal pay and equal attention. But we have to do more to lead from the front in this regard, showcasing volleyball’s culture of inclusivity and equality in new and innovative ways to encourage greater action across the world of sport", said Finn Taylor, Volleyball World’s CEO.

"By launching the Equal Jersey campaign, we aim to showcase that volleyball is universal."

Three pairs of players have been confirmed as the first ‘Equal Jersey’ ambassadors: Lauren Carlini (USA) and Facundo Conte (ARG) sharing No. 7, Natalia Goncharova (RUS) and Wallace de Souza (BRA) sharing No. 8, and Eda Erdem (TUR) and Nimir Abdel-Aziz (NED) sharing No. 14.

Michel Vion the New FIS Secretary General

The world skiing and snowboarding federation appointed Michel Vion as their new Secretary General on Tuesday.

Vion, the 1982 Alpine Skiing World Champion in the combined discipline, has held the role of President of the French Ski Federation since 2010. He has also been a member of the FIS Council since 2004. Upon being elected as Secretary General, he stepped down from both positions.

“Michel brings the perfect combination of leadership skills and expertise of our sport to the role of FIS Secretary General,” said FIS President Johan Eliasch. “FIS is truly fortunate to have an individual of his caliber to come on board and lead the daily operations as we take the next steps into the future of FIS.”

Vion will be FIS’ first permanent Secretary General since October 2020, when 20-year incumbent Sarah Lewis was ousted in a no-confidence vote.

Oman Gets Nod For 2021 World Youth Sailing Championships

World Sailing selects the Mussanah Sport City in Oman to host the 50th edition of the World Youth Sailing Championships, scheduled for December 11-18 of this year.

In a competitive bidding process, Mussanah beat out a candidacy from Valletta, Malta to secure the event. Mussanah has hosted several Olympic class sailing events in the past; including the Laser World Championships in 2013 and the RS:X World Championships in 2015.

David Graham, CEO of World Sailing, said "We were really impressed with both Oman’s and Malta’s bids, and it was a tough choice for the Evaluation Panel, with both venues demonstrating the expertise to host a memorable championship."

"Oman’s outstanding facilities and sailing conditions will help to make this Youth Worlds a memorable one for all involved."

Homepage photo: IOC/USOPC

Written by Filip Vachuda