Japan’s Olympics superfans who need Tokyo 2020 to go forward regardless of Covid-19

Japan's Olympics superfans who want Tokyo 2020 to go ahead despite Covid-19

Sporting a bandana, followers, whistle and conventional Japanese costume, the IT firm president is a superfan who has attended each Summer Games since Barcelona 1992.

She even performs a Japanese cheer routine at each and hopes to hold on the custom this 12 months.

“The purpose of my cheer activities is to share the message of love, friendship, and peace,” mentioned Ishikawa, who’s a self-acclaimed “international (Olympics) cheerleader.”

“The Games are the one opportunity where we can share that with people from around the world.”

Ishikawa could be upbeat; nevertheless, with only one month till the opening ceremony of the Summer Games on July 23, many in Japan are nonetheless not satisfied by assurances from the federal government and organizers that it is potential to stage the Games safely.

Earlier in June, a British medical journal called for a “global conversation” on staging the Olympics. And a recent poll from Kyodo News discovered 86% of two,000 folks surveyed feared a rebound of Covid-19 circumstances if the mega occasion went forward.
While abroad spectators have been barred from coming to the Games earlier in March, simply this week, Tokyo 2020 organizers agreed to allow up to 10,000 fans at events, offering the quantity doesn’t exceed 50% of venue capability.

That has left ticket holders like Ishikawa hopeful they will nonetheless be capable of expertise — in individual — an Olympics like no different.

Olympic attraction

Usually on the Olympics, hordes of worldwide followers pack stadiums and host cities.

The variety of attendees will be staggering — as an illustration, a complete of 8.three million tickets have been bought for the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Georgia, according to Guinness World Records. In comparability, 4.45 million tickets have been initially bought for Tokyo 2020 however 840,000 have been refunded after the postponement.
Ishikawa nabbed tickets for the 1992 Games and never looked back.

Ishikawa says she received hooked on that buzz from the crowds when she went to her first Olympics in Barcelona in 1992 as a scholar. It’s additionally the place she met Naotoshi Yamada — or “Uncle Olympics” — who was recognized to have attended each Summer Games since Tokyo 1964 in his colourful Japanese costumes.

The pair hit it off and saved assembly up at each Summer Games. They have been even planning to have a good time Tokyo 2020 collectively till Yamada died, age 91, in 2019.

Ishikawa (right) sits with Naotoshi Yamada, aka "Uncle Olympics," at the Beijing Games in 2008.

Ishikawa, decided to proceed Yamada’s legacy, is a fan who counts on displaying her help vocally.

Others, nevertheless, talk their fervor for the Games by means of mementos.

Namely Shlomi Tsafrir, an Olympics memorabilia collector who has an archive of over 100,000 artifacts and knick-knacks. He’s been hooked on the Olympics since 1998 when he opened a memento store and loves utilizing his assortment as a speaking level.

“I want more people to be interested in the history of the Olympic Games. Many of my Olympic memorabilia items come with a fascinating story behind them,” mentioned Tsafrir.

Armchair fandom?

Since the Games’ postponement in March final 12 months, organizers have coordinated preparations for holding the key worldwide occasion amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan’s vaccination rollout has ramped up considerably in mid-June, with large-scale vaccination facilities accepting bookings for folks between ages 18 and 65, and an growing variety of firms and universities providing inoculations on web site.

Despite this, Japan’s high coronavirus adviser mentioned on June 18 that staging the Tokyo Olympics with out spectators is “desirable” as it could be the bottom threat choice amid the pandemic.

Responding to his issues, Tokyo 2020 organizers and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga mentioned this week they might not rule out an Olympics with out spectators if a state of emergency is reinstated in Tokyo.

The capital shifted to a quasi-state of emergency on June 21, a day after the third state of emergency ended.

Shlomi Tsafrir (far left) has traded pins far and wide. Here he is at the 2000 Games in Sydney.

While Tsafrir nonetheless hopes he can go to the Games, he — like Ishikawa — should wait to search out out if he is among the many fortunate ones who can enter Olympic venues. Tokyo 2020 organizers will maintain a recent lottery to resolve who will be capable of watch in individual for occasions with over 50% of the venue capability already crammed.

New sort of spectatorship

For Tsafrir, who likes to go to totally different Olympic cities and cities to amass memorabilia, a profitable Games sends a message to the world that life can resume, and that different large cultural and sporting occasions may come again sooner or later.

Tsafrir has desk tennis and swimming tickets however mentioned he would not be too upset if he cannot watch the occasions on the venues.

“Most people in the world will be watching the Olympics at home — and sometimes watching it on TV, you can get a better angle than sitting in the stadium,” Tsafrir added.

Tsafrir at an exhibition on Olympic-related treasures, which he opened in Nagano.

TV viewership is crucially necessary for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which attracts 73% of its funding from broadcasting rights.

With medical consultants warning of a resurgence of coronavirus as folks transfer across the nation, each Japan’s chief and high Covid-19 knowledgeable have urged folks to try to watch the Games from house to forestall the unfold of the virus.

“There are technologies that can create the feeling of being (at the Olympics) — we can stream (the Games) to the world and create a new way of cheering. I think Japan can create a new model for that,” Shigeru Omi, an infectious illness knowledgeable, mentioned in a information convention final Friday.

And it isn’t simply medical consultants and officers who’re looking for methods of adapting to a streamlined Games.

Ishikawa performs a traditional Japanese cheer dance called the "sansan'nanabyōshi" -- a routine usually performed at high school sports events to cheer on athletes.

Surrounded by Olympics paraphernalia at her house in Tokyo, Ishikawa is pondering how she’ll make her model of fandom work in a socially distanced world.

“We cannot meet face-to-face, but currently, we have technologies that still link and connect with the people from around the world. I’m thinking of how we can utilize that.”

Source’s George Ramsay contributed to this report from London.

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