IOC Debuts Metaverse Experience for Gangwon 2024 Youth Olympic Games

IOC Debuts Metaverse Experience for Gangwon 2024 Youth Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched a metaverse experience for the winter youth Olympic Games (YOG) scheduled to be held in Gangwon, South Korea, later this month.

The experience taps Gangwon-do province’s existing metaverse to offer fans different immersive and interactive experiences, such as virtual tours of the venues and games, the IOC announced.

Fans will also be able to engage in what the Olympic body called competitive online “mini games” that include ski-jumping, curling, and bobsleigh. Korean-based users can livestream the events on mobile and on the web.

The experience comes a few weeks after the world soccer governing body, Fifa, brought some of its matches to the metaverse.

Also read: Can You Really Commit a Crime in the Metaverse?

Dancing avatars for olympic games

The winter youth Olympic Games will take place in Gangwon from Jan. 19 to Feb. 1. Nearly 2,000 athletes from over 80 countries are expected to take part in the global sporting event. All athletes are between the ages of 15 and 18.

The IOC, which worked with the Korean government and the local Olympic organizers on this event, hopes its metaverse will help make Gangwon 2024, as the games are called, “as inclusive and accessible as possible, particularly for young fans.”

“The metaverse also provides an opportunity to meet and interact with other fans from around the world, as well as inspiring visitors to try new winter sports and learn about Olympic values,” the non-profit said in a statement.

Gangwon 2024’s metaverse experience will be available in six languages—Korean, English, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Chinese—and users can create their own custom avatars.

People have the option to choose from 30 different characters and can define things like hairstyle, body shape, and clothing for their avatars. The IOC says that the avatars can express a range of emotions, including joy, love, sadness, surprise, and anger.

For those keen on dancing in a virtual world, the characters can also do hip-hop dance and a youth Olympic games-related dance, the Olympic committee added.

Once you have created your own avatar, you can move around the 3D virtual world, visiting digital recreations of nine game venues, “including fantastical elements, the youth Olympic villages, and four tourist attractions in the host region.”

Visitors and local Koreans attending Gangwon 2024 in person can immerse themselves in the event using simulators, graphic panels, and virtual reality headsets hosted at the Gangneung Green City Experience Centre, an eco-friendly facility in the city.

IOC Debuts Metaverse Experience for Gangwon 2024 Youth Olympic Games
Gangwon 2024 metaverse. Image credits: IOC

Korea’s metaverse advances

As a country, South Korea is making strides to embrace the metaverse. Seoul, its capital, was designated as a metaverse city in 2021—a type of city in digital spaces or a virtual environment.

In 2022, South Korea committed $180 million to building a metaverse ecosystem. Today, people in Seoul can download the city’s metaverse app and use it to do things like play a game, file a complaint, or receive advice on tax issues. The concept is spreading across provinces like Gangwon in the Asian country.

Korea’s capital is one of a few metaverse cities in the world, including Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Santa Monica in the United States, and others. According to the World Economic Forum, the metaverse offers a virtual platform for cities to test new infrastructure designs, optimize traffic flow, and simplify city operations.

In the long run, this could even lead to large cost savings, it says, adding that the metaverse is a more engaging and interactive way for citizens to take part in decision-making as well as connect with their city government.

About 700 cities worldwide will have some form of metaverse infrastructure by 2030, says a new report from tech intelligence firm ABI Research.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.