NBA fan spent $7K to watch Yuta Watanabe play at the Olympics but her dream is dead

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Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) will be representing Team Japan at the Olympics. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) will be representing Team Japan at the Olympics. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

As Tokyo entered its fourth COVID-19 state of emergency on Monday, fans have expressed their disappointment about not being able to physically attend the Olympic Games.

That includes Tokyo resident Ayumi Nakamura, whose lifelong dream has been to attend the Olympics at home, according to the Toronto Star’s Evelyn Kwong.

“I believe most of the ticket holders have the same feeling as me: sadness and anger. At least those around me do,” Nakamura told Kwong.

Nakamura, an avid basketball fan, came close to achieving her dream after winning a lottery bid to buy tickets in 2019, which cost her and her husband more than $7,000 for 15 basketball games.

She would also spend her mornings staying up to date with current NBA games despite the time zone difference, and was excited to watch her favourite player, Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe, play and represent Team Japan.

Unfortunately, with the Summer Olympics set to begin next week, Nakamura will have to enjoy the events at home as spectators are banned from attending any Tokyo-area Olympic venues as COVID-19 and the delta variant cases continue to rise.

The country has been slow when it comes to its vaccination rollout, with only 19.7 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

“I left my job and took one that had more flexibility for taking days off during the Olympic Games,” Nakamura said. “We’re all frustrated with COVID-19. Japan was slow to start vaccinating people...

“I was sad because I’ve been looking forward to the Games for almost two years since I got tickets. After that I needed to give up many things due to COVID-19 but I’ve been patient and staying safe hoping for this opportunity.”

Nakamura and other ticket holders will be receiving a full refund, according to the International Olympic Committee.

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