Athletes' careers are short-lived. Faster, taller, stronger, younger competitors replace experienced gymnasts, skiers, and skaters all the time. However, not all athletes want to age into coaching. Many would prefer to keep competing.
In 2040, the IOC reevaluated its attitudes toward retired athletes. VR technologies and game controllers have long enabled reliable and accurate simulations of almost any sport, from alpine skiing to soccer. Such technologies have given retired athletes the opportunity to continue their careers and even conquer new heights.
What does that look like? The athlete is connected to a VR simulation in a special environment and performs the same physical actions they would in in-person competition. Other participants, including reigning champions, can join the same simulation under the same conditions. Technology enables the equalizing of competitors' physical abilities, meaning that skill, not strength or speed alone, can win.
VR simulation has enabled athletes to remain in demand for longer than they might otherwise, passing on their knowledge and skills to younger participants. The IOC recognized such competitions and included them in the World Olympic Cyber Games.
Not only is age losing significance in the virtual reality space, but so is gender. In that regard, women can now compete against men on equal terms.
At first, cybergames for retired athletes were just supplemental to the live games. With attention gradually shifting to VR, however, at some point, it became mainstream. Now, live competitions are the niche.