Japan’s ‘Uncle Olympics’ fan dies just short of 2020 Games

Naotoshi Yamada, above, was planning to attend the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. (Reuters/File)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Japan’s ‘Uncle Olympics’ fan dies just short of 2020 Games

  • The man attended all summer games since 1964
  • He often wore a golden hat when he attended the games

TOKYO: A Japanese Olympic mega-fan who attended every summer games since Tokyo in 1964 has died, just over a year before his home city was to host its second Olympics.
Tokyo businessman Naotoshi Yamada, 92, who died on March 9 from heart failure, was a national celebrity in his own right with his repeated, gleeful appearances in Olympic stands.
“Uncle Olympics,” as he came to be known, was an omnipresent fixture for Japanese TV watchers cheering on the Japan team at the “Greatest Show On Earth.”
Often sporting a gold top hat, kimono, and a beaming smile, Yamada also became a darling of the international media.
“After 92 years of his life spent cheering, Naotoshi Yamada, international Olympic cheerleader, was called to eternal rest on March 9, 2019,” said his web site, managed by a firm he founded.
Born in 1926, Yamada built a successful wire rope manufacturing business, and also expanded his portfolio to include the hotel and real estate sectors.
But away from work, his passion was for sport, particularly the Olympics.
He did not miss a summer games since 1964, taking in Mexico City, Munich, Montreal, Moscow, Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
For good measure, he also attended the winter games when it rolled into Nagano in 1998, and told local media of his strong desire to attend the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Yamada saw the first Tokyo Olympics when he was 38.
But his passion was truly ignited during the 1968 Mexico City Games, according to his website.
He donned a kimono and a sombrero hat and loudly cheered for a Mexican 5000-meter runner, mistaking him for a Japanese athlete.
Local spectators embraced the scene and loudly cheered for Japanese athletes in return, leading to an electrifying show of support that went beyond nationality, his website said.
“He saw the awesome power of cheering, and was mesmerised by it ever since,” it said.


Rami Malek joins cast of upcoming James Bond movie

Updated 25 April 2019
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Rami Malek joins cast of upcoming James Bond movie

  • The recent Oscar-winner said in a videotaped message that he’ll make sure Bond “will not have an easy ride of it” in Bond 25
  • The still untitled film will be partly set in Jamaica

NEW YORK: The 25th James Bond movie and Daniel Craig’s last one as 007 is heading home to Jamaica.
Craig, Bond producers and director Cary Fukunaga on Thursday launched the film from the Caribbean island nation where Ian Fleming wrote all of his Bond novels. The still untitled film will be partly set in Jamaica, also a setting in “Dr. No” and “Live and Let Die.”
Rami Malek is joining the cast as the villain. The recent Oscar-winner said in a videotaped message that he’ll make sure Bond “will not have an easy ride of it” in Bond 25.
Fukunaga took over directing from Danny Boyle, who departed last year over creative differences. Bond 25 is due out in April 2020.