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Olympic athletes hit the gym (the Pokémon Go gym, that is)

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The makers of Pokémon Go on Wednesday urged everyone south of the U.S. to “break out the sneakers and Pokéballs and get ready to explore the world around you,” announcing it was “excited to officially be putting Pokémon Go in the hands of our Latin American fans, visitors, and the Olympic athletes in Rio.”

Ah yes, the Olympians. By all accounts, they’ve been getting rather frustrated at not being able to play the creature-catching game ever since they began arriving in Rio last week in preparation for the Games.

American diver Abby Johnston tweeted on Sunday that the worst thing about the Olympic village was the absence of Pokémon Go, while New Zealand soccer player Anna Green said she wished she could “run around in the [athletes’] village catching Pokémon,” lamenting that she “can’t get it on the phone … it would have been something fun to do.”

And then British slalom canoeist Joe Clarke tweeted the alarming news that there were no creatures to catch in the Olympic venues, “or in Brazil!??” To express the full extent of this devastating reality, he included a heartbroken emoji face beneath a screenshot of a deserted Pokémon Go map.

But now that the popular smartphone game has finally landed in the country, the athletes can at last hit the gym – the Pokémon Go gym, that is – while at the same time focusing on the important task of battling monsters winning a medal.

Having flipped the switch in Latin America – population 627 million with smartphone penetration at 45 percent – Pokémon Go maker Niantic will be praying everything’s in place to prevent the kind of server crash that messed up the initial launch almost a month ago.

The augmented-reality game where players search the real world for virtual pocket monsters has taken the mobile gaming world by storm, screaming past 100 million downloads in a matter of weeks and reportedly netting the company $10 million a day via in-app purchases and other deals. And with Central and South America now joining in the fun, that figure is only heading one way.

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