In March, the International Olympic Committee announced that it was getting into esports. It's not adding videogames to the Olympics, but it is running a "global virtual and simulated sports competition" this year called the Olympic Esports Series 2023.
The tournament got a light roasting on social media when its game roster was initially announced, because rather than choosing big esports games like League of Legends or CS:GO, the IOC picked analogues of traditional sports, including WBSC eBaseball: Power Pros and mobile game Tennis Clash. The most esports-ey game in the mix was Gran Turismo, followed arguably by Chess.com.
This week, the IOC announced that it's adding Fortnite to the Esports Series lineup, and if you're thinking "alright, it might not be my first choice, but that is a game people play in an esports context," hold up, because there's more. The competitors in the Olympic Esports Series aren't going to play Fortnite's regular battle royale mode. They're going to drop onto "International Shooting Sport Federation Island" in Fortnite Creative where they'll be "tested on their target aiming accuracy, just as sport shooters would in competition."
I find it all pretty endearing. As silly as these "esports" selections are, I wouldn't have actually expected The Olympics to dive in with a CS:GO tournament—can you really have a team playing as "terrorists" in an event associated with the Olympics?—or to get involved with any simulated killing at all. The most violent the Olympics gets is in combat sports like boxing and karate, and how violent they should be is a controversial topic. In 2021, athlete Tareg Hamedi was disqualified for knocking out opponent Sajad Ganjzadeh in their gold medal karate bout.
So we get "International Shooting Sport Federation Island." Fair enough!
I love how old fashioned the Olympics manages to be even when trying to be hip—Shooting Sport Federation Island sounds like a place where US senators puff cigars and accidentally shoot each other. I hope the competitors are allowed to bring their own avatars. I wanna see the stupid banana.
I can't say that I think Fortnite target shooting sounds very exciting otherwise—I don't think "technical shooting and ballistics simulation" when I think Fortnite—but I have in the past been riveted by Farming Simulator esports, so maybe it'll surprise us.
The in-person Olympic Esports Series finals will happen June 22-25 in Singapore—tickets are on sale now—and will be streamed on the official site and "social channels," which I assume includes the Olympics' YouTube channel.