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

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.


Italy’s Salvini drops Nutella due to Turkish ingredients

Updated 06 December 2019

Italy’s Salvini drops Nutella due to Turkish ingredients

  • Matteo Salvini: I found out that Nutella uses Turkish nuts and I prefer to help companies that use Italian products
  • Ferrero is one of the world’s bigger buyers of hazelnuts, but Italian production is not enough to sustain Nutella’s manufacturing

ROME: Italy’s right-wing opposition leader, Matteo Salvini, says he is no longer a fan of Nutella after discovering that the chocolate-and-hazelnut spread contains Turkish, rather than Italian, nuts.
Salvini, who heads the nationalist League, has previously posted selfies on social media while enjoying slices of bread covered in Nutella, which is made by Italian company Ferrero.
But at a rally Thursday evening in the northern city of Ravenna, Salvini said he had changed his mind about the product.
“I found out that Nutella uses Turkish nuts and I prefer to help companies that use Italian products. I prefer to eat Italian and help Italian farmers,” he said after a woman in the crowd suggested he eat a Nutella sandwhich to stay warm.
Ferrero had no comment. The Alba, Italy-based company is one of the world’s bigger buyers of hazelnuts, but Italian production is not enough to sustain Nutella’s manufacturing.
Salvini’s League is known for its “Italians first” motto and its defense of Made in Italy products.