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Japanese gymnast racks up $5,000 bill playing Pokemon Go

USA TODAY USA TODAY 3/08/2016 Martin Rogers
First placed Kohei Uchimura from Japan shows the number of his world championship titles after the men's all-around final competition at the World Artistic Gymnastics championships at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland. © Matthias Schrader, AP First placed Kohei Uchimura from Japan shows the number of his world championship titles after the men's all-around final competition at the World Artistic Gymnastics championships at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Gymnastics superstar Kohei Uchimura of Japan made a costly error to begin his Olympics campaign – as his addiction to Pokemon Go threatened to land him with a $4,954 phone bill.

Uchimura, a strong favorite to win the men’s all-round competition for the second consecutive time, became hooked on the mobile game after being persuaded to try it by colleagues on the Japanese Olympic team.

After landing in Sao Paulo for a pre-Games training camp last week, Uchimura downloaded the game and played it during his spare time – unaware that he was racking up an enormous sum in roaming charges.

“500,000 yen ($4,954),” Uchimura told Kyodo News on Tuesday, shaking his head with embarrassment.

“He looked dead at the team meal that day,” teammate Kenzo Shirai added.

Uchimura’s high bill would have been all the more distressing given that – as the game is not officially available in Brazil according to its creator Niantic Labs – he is unlikely to have found any of the cherished prizes.

However, Uchimura was saved the huge expense after pleading with his cell phone provider to reduce the cost. After he explained the situation, the company agreed to charge him a flat rate of around $30 per day and waive the extra cost.

“I really lucked out,” Uchimura said.

With the start of the gymnastics competition now just days away, Uchimura may be saved from himself in the Athletes’ Village, where competitors have complained about the absence of Pokemon Go connectivity.

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