TOKYO – For most people, going to watch the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime various nonetheless for 92-year-old superfan Naotoshi Yamada it has end up to be a quadrennial ritual over the past 5 and a half a few years.
Yamada, acknowledged to his Japanese compatriots as “Olympic Ojisan”, or “Olympics Grandad”, first expert the Summer Games when Tokyo remaining hosted the gathering in 1964 and he has been there for every minute of every one since.
“Mexico, Munich, Montreal, Los Angeles, Moscow. Japan did not even participate at the Moscow Olympics but I went to see that Games,” Yamada instructed Reuters in Tokyo.
“Moscow, Seoul, Barcelona, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London. I went to all Games from the opening to the closing ceremony … There is not such a person like me. I am the only one on the earth.”
Yamada, in his distinctive gold prime hat, purple jacket and beaming smile, has end up to be one of many essential acquainted and vibrant figures on the Games, repeatedly adopted by television cameras and cheered by totally different followers.
Now, he has one closing need — to dwell prolonged adequate to witness the sporting spectacle when it returns to Japan subsequent yr.
“It will be the culmination of all my years cheering the Olympics,” said Yamada.
Yamada was a relative stripling of 38 when he attended his first Olympics, not merely to witness the sporting spectacle nonetheless from an earlier want to experience the world that was impressed by a speech given at his school by Emperor Hirohito.
“The Emperor said he wanted the young generation to rebuild our country,” Yamada said.
“I felt that I wanted to do something for my country. I think that it is one of the reasons why I started to visit the Olympics.”
Yamada’s first Games exterior Japan was Mexico City 1968, the place he paired his primary Haori Hakama kimono with a Mexican sombrero.
Yamada said it was inconceivable for him to choose a favorite from the 14 Olympics.
“If you have … different colors of crayons and someone asks which color is the favorite one? Black? Red? Blue? Green? … each color has its own character,” said Yamada, a big grin etched all through his face.
“So I cannot tell which is my favorite one. Each of the Olympics were fascinating.”
Yamada loves the worldwide nature of the Olympic Games and has a vast assortment of souvenirs he has collected over time, a couple of of them acquired by the use of swaps with totally different followers.
His haul of flags, stamps, photographs and totally different devices are on present at a gallery in his hometown of Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture.
“The Olympics is only the international festival for all humankind,” said Yamada.
“Athletes and vacationers from better than 200 worldwide places will gather at one place.
“For the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, so many people want to come to Japan.
“I believe that 2020 might be superb occasion.”
Reporting by Masashi Kato; additional reporting by Jack Tarrant; writing by Jack Tarrant; modifying by Nick Mulvenney/Greg Stutchbury