The Special Olympic Games USA will host an esports competition in Seattle for the first time in history of the event. In collaboration with Microsoft, the organisation will hold a tournament on Xbox One's Forza Motorsport 7 racing game.
Xbox One part of the Special Olympic Games will take place on Monday, 2 July 2018 from 13:00 to 16:00 PDT in the Lyceum room in the University of Washington Husky Union Building.
This is not the first instance of Microsoft partnering up with Special Olympics though, as they have done so in 2014 as well, but this year they are branded as the Premier Partner of the event. Phil Spencer, the head of gaming division at Microsoft, stated that the company believes that gaming is for everyone ahead of the first gaming tournament at the Special Olympics USA. He also noted that the goal of the tournament is to challenge biases and breakdown barriers "while providing an empowering and fun experience for all players".
Qualifiers for the tournament were held at Microsoft stores across the country in order to select eight Unified teams to compete in the tournament. A Unified team consists of two competitors - one with an intellectual disability and another one without. These eight teams will play Forza Motorsport 7 on Xbox One.
Beth Knox, the president and CEO of the Special Olympics USA 2018 stated that many of their athletes "are avid gamers and research indicates playing video games can potentially boost cognitive and motor skills of people with intellectual disabilities" which means the tournament could prove beneficial on many levels. Knox also mentioned that she hopes people will come out to support the competitors during this debut event.
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On top of the tournament, Microsoft will also host Xbox gaming stations during the Olympics in a fan zone where people will be able to play games such as Forza Motorsport 7, Minecraft and Super Lucky's Tale. There is no mention of a livestream though, but it's not to say one will not be established by 2 July 2018 when the event will happen.