The Tokyo Olympics will present some live and full event replays on Oculus Quest but only to pay-TV subscribers in the United States who have USA Network as part of their video package.
The app is called NBC Olympics VR by Xfinity and the majority of reviews for the app are 1-star due to the restrictive availability of content. The description for the app says it’ll have live and replay coverage of the Opening and Closing ceremonies as well as certain sports like Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Track & Field, and Gymnastics. It is also said to have “additional VR features” which include “3D VR” with watch parties for a few Oculus Friends. The app says the “additional VR features” will be available to subscribers with planned sports including Artistic Swimming, Sailing, Cycling, Golf, Equestrian, Rowing, Diving, Canoe/Kayak, Skateboarding, Softball, Baseball, Climbing, Surfing, Table Tennis, Triathlon, and Shooting.
This isn’t the first time the Olympics have appeared in VR to varying degrees — some of 2018’s Winter Olympics were shown in VR as well. For example, you can check out the Opening Ceremonies from 2018 below in a 180-degree video:
The live presentation in VR of major sports is not generally worth watching due to various roadblocks that are still in place. The problems start with the initial capture of content, with specialized cameras and placements needed alongside computational systems that don’t exist at the scale necessary for individual sports, let alone a multi-sport mega-event like the Olympics. NextVR , for example, was one of the leaders in capturing and presenting wide field of view live sports content like basketball in 3D, but the startup got bought by Apple and we still haven’t seen what its technology might be used for at the company. In addition, streaming and broadcast rights cause major headaches for viewers who generally have to jump through hoops to see even a small amount of content that’s been captured specifically with VR in mind.
The Olympics start on July 23, 2021.