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With fans kept out of venues, Olympic superfan brings the Games home

Kyoko Ishikawa, who is missing her first Summer Games in nearly 30 years, is setting up her own virtual stadium at home, using the opportunity to discover unfamiliar sports

Olympic fan Kyoko Ishikawa shows her cheering at her home, April 10, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)
Olympic fan Kyoko Ishikawa shows her cheering at her home, April 10, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — A Tokyo Olympics spectator ban means superfan Kyoko Ishikawa will miss her first Summer Games since 1992 — so instead she’s turning her home into a flag-waving, whistle-blowing virtual stadium.

The 51-year-old businesswoman is determined not to let coronavirus spoil the fun as the Games land in her home city, despite organizers banning fans from most events.

She’ll put on her signature high-energy performance, cheering and chanting in a traditional Japanese outfit, as she watches on TV in the comfort of her home.

And she won’t be alone as she leaps around her living room, which is decorated with memorabilia picked up on her globe-trotting Olympic adventures.

She plans to connect with fans around the world on live conference calls and social media, convinced the Games can bring people together even during a pandemic.

“The Olympics is a special occasion, and in any special occasion in your life, you get people together,” she told AFP.

“It’s the same this time. Whatever the method, that fundamental principle doesn’t change.”

Olympic fan Kyoko Ishikawa shows tickets of Olympic Games she visited past, April 10, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Ishikawa’s Olympic obsession began on a 1992 backpacking trip to Barcelona, where she managed to buy a ticket to the opening ceremony and was blown away by the atmosphere.

But her hopes of watching the Tokyo Games were dashed when organizers announced that practically all events would take place behind closed doors because of virus fears.

Ishikawa had a ticket to watch wrestling and was hoping to pick up more as the Games drew closer.

She won’t be able to do that now, but she sees the fan ban as an opportunity for a new experience.

She plans to learn about athletes’ countries through maps and books as they compete, and sample food and drink from around the world over the course of the Games.

‘Unusual Olympic Games’

“If you’re traveling between venues, three events is the maximum you can watch in a day, but on TV, you can watch 10 or 15 events in one day, easily,” she said.

“That gives us more opportunities to find out about unfamiliar sports, and watch more countries that you don’t know.”

“I want to know more about the world through this unusual Olympic Games,” she added.

Olympic fan Kyoko Ishikawa speaks at her home, April 10, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)

Games organizers planned to let up to 10,000 fans into venues until a surge in virus cases prompted a rethink.

But they would have been subject to strict anti-virus rules inside venues, with mask-wearing mandatory and cheering and high-fiving prohibited.

Ishikawa plans to let rip to her heart’s content as she watches the Games in her living room.

Still, she admits having “a mixture” of feelings as she contemplates a first Olympics watched outside live venues in almost 30 years.

“On the one hand, yes, I still want to watch in person,” she said.

“But on the other, I’m so glad we can still have the Olympic Games in a safe way. The most important thing is safety and security of life for everyone in the world.”

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