Bloemen moved to Calgary in 2014 to compete for Canada. CREDIT: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images There are almost 3,000 athletes competing at the Peyongchang Olympics, but there is only one who is paid in cryptocurrency.

Canadian speed skater Ted-Jan Bloemen recently became the first athlete to be paid in virtual money when he struck a one-year sponsorship deal with ONG Social, a social network and crypto community, and CEEK VR, a developer of virtual reality experiences. It’s often not easy being a Winter Olympian, particularly in securing financial support to fund the pursuit of sport success, with Bloemen is exploring a “whole new frontier,” according to his agent.

The double world record-holder plans to share his Olympic journey on the ONG Social network and star in a 360° virtual reality experience on CEEK VR. In return, he will earn cryptocurrency rewards.

“Speed skating success is all about progression — building and building to peak at the right time,” said Bloemen in a joint statement with CEEK VR and ONG Social last month to announce the deal. If it’s a deal that provides exposure for ONG and CEEK VR, it could also be a smart move with Mary Spio, who is the CEO and founder of the virtual reality company, pointing out that athletes would increasingly use VR to improve their performance.

“Bloemen’s support for cutting-edge technologies is reflective of his proclivity for pushing the boundaries,” said Spio in a statement. “We believe Virtual Reality isn’t just great for our audience (Ceekers) but will ultimately be used for training and maximizing player performance and potential.” Although virtual currencies can fluctuate wildly, Bloemen said he was “excited” about his new endorsement, adding he felt like he had got “two new teammates to help put me over the top, at the most important point in the season.” Bitcoin, the best known cryptocurrency, soared to close to $20,000 last year, before collapsing in December. Read more from…

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