Vampire on the loose in Serbia?

Updated 02 December 2012
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Vampire on the loose in Serbia?

ZAROZJE, Serbia: Get your garlic and stakes ready: A bloodsucking vampire is on the loose. Or so say villagers in the tiny western Serbian hamlet of Zarozje, nestled between lush green mountain slopes and spooky thick forests. They say rumors that a legendary vampire ghost has awakened are spreading fear — and a potential tourist opportunity — through the remote village.
A local council warned villagers to put garlic in their pockets to ward off vampires, although it appeared designed more to attract visitors to the impoverished region bordering Bosnia.
Many of the villagers are aware that Sava Savanovic, Serbia’s most famous vampire, is a fairy tale. Still, they say, better to take it seriously than risk succumbing to the vampire’s fangs. “The story of Sava Savanovic is a legend, but strange things did occur in these parts back in the old days,” said 55-year-old housewife Milka Prokic, holding a string of garlic in one hand and a large wooden stake in another, as an appropriately moody mist rose above the surrounding hills.
“We have inherited this legend from our ancestors, and we keep it alive for the younger generations.” Vampire legends have played a prominent part in the Balkans for centuries — most prominently Dracula from Romania’s Transylvania region. In the 18th century, the legends sometimes triggered mass hysteria and even public executions of those accused of being vampires.


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.