Meet the superfan who has attended every Summer Olympics in the last 30 years

A 51-year-old president of an IT company in Tokyo has been traveling around the world to attend every Summer Olympics since 1992. 

How it all started: Kyoko Ishikawa first attended the Games in Barcelona while she was still a student in the 1990s, the Associated Press reported.

  • Ishikawa was backpacking on a tight budget and managed to buy a ticket to the opening ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics.
  • Since that life-changing moment, she has seen the Games as a way “for children and young people to experience the importance of diversity and identity,” something she first felt at Barcelona’s Olympic stadium where she saw “the energy created by the melting pot” of fans from around the world.
  • During her time in Spain, she also met the late Naotoshi Yamada, who had attended every Summer Olympics since 1964. He was called “Uncle Olympics” in Japan, and Ishikawa acted as his “deputy” until he passed away in 2019.

Cheering during a pandemic: Given the restrictions placed on both local and overseas fans, Ishikawa has had to stay home this year, according to Kyodo News.

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  • Before the Games started, she thought of ways to use technology to bring people together. She created a Facebook page for fellow fans to bond and watch different matches at the same time.
  • Even at home, she wears her Japanese traditional festival outfit and “hachimaki” headband, which says “Victory,” while cheering for athletes. She has worn this attire for decades now, and she also carries a whistle and two folding fans with the Japanese flag on them.
  • Instead of foregoing the Games this year, Ishikawa has become even more determined to provide a unique Olympics experience to fellow fans despite the current pandemic.
  • “If Mr. Yamada was alive today,” she shared, “he would say that the Olympics unite the world as one even under the difficult circumstances stemming from the coronavirus. I think it’s my mission, as a fellow super-fan, to find new ways to support the Olympics in the face of the pandemic.”

Featured Image via AFP News Agency

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