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We asked the Olympics why their official esports are so weird

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On March 1, the International Olympic Committee announced the first details of the Olympic Esports Series 2023, the next step in the venerable sporting body’s tentative move into the esports arena. (It previously hosted an Olympic Virtual Series in tandem with the Tokyo 2020 games.) Beginning with qualification this month and culminating in live finals in Singapore in June, and open to both amateur and professional players, the Esports Series seems like a moderately serious bid by the Olympic movement to engage with competitive video gaming — as underlined by its shift in branding toward using the community’s favored term, “esports.” There is just one problem, however: The choice of games is… odd.

You will not find any of the most popular esports represented here. No League of Legends, no Counter-Strike, no Fortnite, Overwatch, Street Fighter, or Rocket League.

None of the esports that people actually watch. Instead, the nine initially confirmed games are all, to a greater or lesser degree, simulations of real-world sports, games, and activities.

Only a couple of them are instantly recognizable as video game brands: Gran Turismo and Just Dance. (Hang on… Just Dance?!) Also represented are the preeminent chess website,, and the indoor cycling trainer Zwift.

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