Apparently Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Peas’ empathic request to Nintendo and Niantic, complete with a picture of the Olympic venue with a photo-shopped Pikachu and Squirtle, has borne fruit. Shortly before the games proper would start this Friday August 5, news came that was the cause of much rejoicing for Olympic athletes and the people of the city they’re staying in.
It is official, “Pokémon Go” has officially launched in Brazil according to TIME, which means it’s now available in Rio where the Summer Olympic Games are so very close to opening. The ridiculously addictive and phenomenally popular mobile app game that has taken the world by storm since July has announced in its official Facebook page this Wednesday what countless Brazilians and Olympians have been waiting for: “Break out the sneakers and Poké Balls, and get ready to explore the world around you. We are excited to officially be putting Pokémon Go in the hands of our Latin American fans, visitors, and the Olympic athletes in Rio!”
Believe it or not, that came off as some major good news for many of the world’s best athletes, who have gotten to dabble in “Pokémon Go” when it launched in their home countries and were understandably frustrated not to be able to play it (then) upon arriving in Rio.
Typical of the gripes over the unavailability of the creature-catching to wind down with after some hard training is this tweet by Team USA diver Abby Johnson only last week: "Want to know the worst thing about the Olympic village? No @PokemonGoApp." And she wasn’t complaining about the unfinished facilities of the athletes’ residences then. That’s how power the grip of “Pokémon Go” can be in the minds of its players.
Look no further than in the case of Team Japan gymnast Kohei Uchimura, Pokémon trainer back home, who forgot about his cellphone’s data roaming charges when flying to Rio for the Games, only to get slapped with a $5,000 bill for it. His teammate Kenzo Shirai summed it best when he told BBC that Uchimura “looked dead at the team meal that day.” He can count himself lucky that his mobile company was very understanding and gave him a flat daily rate of $30 to pay of his “Pokémon Go” folly.
Really, the release of the game in Brazil came at just the right time to keep everyone’s hype along with the Olympic Games, and better to forget, if only for a while, the country’s other woes like a socio-economic crisis, increase in crime and the Zika virus.
The XXXI Summer Olympic Games will open this Friday, August 5.
Photo Credit to wjbr.com