Olympic athletes and spectators aren’t exactly running around so they can grind Pokemon into candy. But Pikachu has inadvertently become one of the more popular elements of this year’s Rio Olympics.
The Olympics does strange things to the cities in which its hosted. When Sydney hosted them in 2000, our train system magically operated with a degree of efficiency hitherto thought impossible. Sydneysiders were genuinely friendly to one another. And everyone generally had a good time.
But what they don’t tell you about the Olympics is how much it brings out the collector in people. For Sydney Olympics, one of the most valuable items was the jackets given to volunteers. People sold them on Ebay for thousands at the time.
That wasn’t the only thing that was a big collector’s item though. Another one was pins. Anyone who has been to PAX — PAX Australia, PAX East, PAX South, any of them — will understand. Pins are huge. People go nuts for them. And according to a senior pin collector who spoke to Wired’s Kyle Vanhemert, certain pins will get you into areas that even money can’t. Which makes a lot of sense — pins can be rare. Luxurious. Valuable.
So, unsurprisingly, one of the most rare — and therefore most sought after — pins at this year’s Olympics happens to be a Pikachu. It was supposedly created by members of the Japanese press, and that makes sense given Japan’s official pin (at least from what can be seen in photos and on social media) is a fairly standard affair featuring their national flag.
I haven’t seen any listings on Ebay for the exclusive Pikachu Rio pin, although there are some listings for the Pikachu pin that was made for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Japan will probably make a new Pikachu pin for the 2020 Games as well, although given the limited availability the press-made pin will end up being more valuable.