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The inaugural Virtual Sports Forum in Tokyo 2024

19 March 2024 - As part of a Japan Sport Agency commissioned project including research on the international trends of Esports and Virtual Sports, the Japan Sport Council (JSC) / High Performance Sport Center (HPSC) successfully hosted the “Virtual Sports Forum” at the Japan Sport Olympic Square in Tokyo.

In recent years, Virtual Sports and its surrounding environment has progressed at a remarkable pace. Under the forum’s theme "Exploring the Potential of Virtual Sports", various speakers from multiple backgrounds presented the current status of virtual sports and their initiatives from their respective standpoints. The forum also included a panel discussion with the speakers sharing their outlook on the potential for virtual sports from their own unique positions.


The aim of the forum was to promote the understanding of virtual sports, its current status and international trends, by sharing information and introducing examples from various perspectives. More than 80 participants including national sport federations, domestic sport organizations, organizers of upcoming major sports events in Japan participated at the forum, which served as a valuable opportunity to obtain knowledge and share information about virtual sports among the domestic stakeholders in sport.

The forum commenced with the opening remarks by MUROFUSHI Koji, Commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency. Kit McConnell, Sports Director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), also participated to congratulate the Forum, and to sharethe IOC’s latest discussions on Virtual Sports through an online presentation.


Virtual Sport Forum Program

Part 1: Virtual Sports – International Trends

JSC: Research Report on the Global Trends in Virtual Sports
SAKATA Hiroshi, Deputy Director of the International Engagement & Information Department at HPSC
• The latest trends in virtual sports worldwide and the international joint research collaboration approach between JSC and World Rowing

World Rowing: Initiatives on Virtual Rowing and Strategy as an International Federation
Jean-Christophe ROLLAND, President of World Rowing
• The international federation’s initiatives towards virtual sports, its future strategy and direction.


Part 2: Overseas initiatives and Game Publisher Strategies

Sports Singapore: Olympic Esports Week 2023 and Active Virtual Sports in Singapore
Roy TEO, Chief of Industry Development & Technology Innovation Group at Sport Singapore
• The efforts made to successfully stage the inaugural Olympic Esports Week in June 2023 and the promotion of virtual sports as a national strategy

Queensland University of Technology: Looking towards Brisbane 2032: QUT & Virtual Sporting Programs
Emily ROSEMOND, Director of Sport at Queensland University of Technology
• The movements towards the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games, and the use of QUT’s Virtual Cycling Center (established in 2023) to integrate real and virtual sports

Konami Digital Entertainment: The Development of eBASEBALLTM in Cooperation with the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC)
ISHIHARA Yasushi, Corporate Officer of Konami Digital Entertainment
• The collaboration between KONAMI and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC)

Part 3: Panel Discussion
“The Potential of Virtual Sports towards the Brisbane 2032 Games”

The panel discussion focused on the potential of virtual sports, as the speakers shared key findings based on their various experiences and practices.
The knowledge gained through the forum helped the participants to understand the current global situation in the field of virtual sports, as well as the future initiatives and activities.


In addition to the presentations and panel discussion, the venue featured a virtual rowing experience booth and also displayed posters of JSC's research and study findings about Virtual Sports.


Comments from Key Speakers:

Jean-Christophe ROLLAND, President of World Rowing:
Virtual sports have a huge potential, and with new technology, we are able to connect more people to sport. Virtual Sport is about physical sport and physical activity, and it enables people to connect and compete wherever they are, and to exercise a sport whist being connected. I look forward to Virtual Sport, especially within rowing, which fits perfectly in this domain.
The Virtual Sports Forum was a great success, and I hope the audience learned about Virtual Sports and the potential for its future. I give my gratitude and thanks to JSC, and I look forward to working with JSC to ensure the best for the future of Virtual Sports.

Roy TEO, Chief of Industry Development & Technology Innovation Group at Sport Singapore:
There are many ways to use Virtual Sports, whether it is to train our athletes, to inspire our people to be more active, to find new innovative ways to engage fans to spectate sports, or to make sports more sustainable. There is huge opportunity in the field.
The Virtual Sport Forum was amazing, and it brought a lot of people together with so much expertise. I was happy to share my views.

Emily ROSEMOND, Director of Sport at Queensland University of Technology:
I am excited for the great amount of potential in Virtual Sports; think about the community engagement element, or the education benefits Virtual Sports can provide especially in stimulated careers (e.g. science and technology). The transferability of the education when applied to Virtual Sports is very powerful. This education can contribute to addressing some of our global challenges when it comes to innovation and technology.
The Virtual Sports Forum was a fantastic event, and I congratulate Japan for hosting it. It was a pleasure for me and Australia to be involved, and I am excited to see what the future holds for Japan and Virtual Sports.

ISHIHARA Yasushi, Corporate Officer of Konami Digital Entertainment:
We realized at this forum that, once again, it is not only the game publishers but also the various stakeholders in sport that are all working together to promote Virtual Sports. Virtual Sports has the potential to create a movement that would affect the entire sports world in many different ways, and is not the efforts of one game publisher or one sport organization. As a game publisher, we have been involved in Virtual Sports and eSports for many years. We place great emphasis and importance in creating environments where athletes and players can perform and be seen. We hope that this forum will help to promote understanding and support for virtual sports and its players.

KUKIDOME Takeshi, Vice President of Japan Sport Council, HPSC High Performance Director/JISS Director General:
To keep up with the fast-paced progress of virtual sports and its surroundings, JSC will strengthen its efforts to gather information about virtual sports and its up-to-date trends by collaborating with its international network and actively engaging in a wide range of activities. Furthermore, together with World Rowing, we would like to promote international joint research in the field of virtual sports and apply those results not only to improve areas of sport in High Performance, but also to improve Life Performance within society.

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