It’s already bigger than Tinder, has overtaken Twitter, and now, Pokémon Go is giving top athletes a run for their money, too. That’s right — the wildly successful game just may be more popular than the Olympics, even distracting some Olympians from their rigorous schedules.
Apparently, fans are going for the Olympics, but staying for the Pokémon. Even as some of the most impressive feats of athletic prowess in the world take place, young Brazilians (and those of other nationalities as well) can’t take their eyes of their smartphone screens. On Saturday, Reuters reports that, “hundreds” of Brazilians went to a park in Rio de Janeiro, not to cheer on any particular team, but to hunt for their own teams of Pokémon.
Much of the craze can be attributed to the very recent debut of the game in the country. It was released in Brazil only two days before the Olympics’ opening ceremony, and while the Olympics may only take place once every four years, it seems that Brazilian fans have been waiting their whole lives for Pokémon action.
“I went to a football game to see Brazil play Sweden, but after Pokémon Go started I lost interest,” student Lourdes Drummond told Reuters. True dedication.
Athletes aren’t immune to the charms of the app either. Kohei Uchimura, the Japanese gymnast often considered the best of all time (he just won his second consecutive men’s individual all-around gold), is a huge fan of the game, too. In fact, his addiction has cost almost $5,000 in international phone charges.
“There is no interest in the Olympics here, just how to get to the next stop where there are the most Pokémon,” 31-year-old sociologist Joao Carlos Barssani told Reuters. Because really, what’s awesome athleticism when compared to augmented reality?