The Japanese couple on a honeymoon and stuck in Cape Verde were invited to be ambassadors for the Olympic team of this country at the Tokyo Olympics.
Rikiya and Ayumi Kataoka started their world tour in December 2019 in South Africa. They were on their way north in February when a pandemic broke out.
The couple canceled their plans to Europe and decided to fly to Cape Verde, an island nation in the Atlantic, about 570 km off the coast of West Africa.
But they have been stuck ever since because the airport at Cape Verde closed. Rikiya runs a rental business in Tokyo, as well as a cameraman, and began producing videos and photography for local restaurants and resorts, in exchange for food and accommodation.
He also posted videos on his Instagram account, recounting everything that happened, from his wife Ayumi walking through the streets of Sal Island and being waved by locals, to the renovation project and local beauty.
The stories that Rikiya told began to spread quickly, catching the eye of Cape Verde’s Olympic officials.
Leonardo Cunha, head of the Olympic team of Cape Verde, contacted and proposed to cooperate with the Rikiya couple.
To Rikiya, that suggestion was a surprise.
“At first I thought maybe we were stuck at Cape Verde caught the media’s attention. I never thought we would become Cape Verde’s Olympic ambassadors,” he said with a laugh.
The island nation of Cape Verde, with a population of about 550,000 people, is expected to send only a handful of athletes to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was delayed earlier this year because of Covid-19.
Cunha said the Rikiya couple has the upper hand when promoting the country.
“We just asked them to continue to document their journey to Cape Verde and to advertise the Cape Verde photo and hospitality they experienced,” Cunha said.
“We hope from now on, they can continue to fulfill their goal of promoting the country, taking advantage of every opportunity to do so during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”
It is not clear how the two will promote Cape Verde during the Olympics, or when they will return to Japan. The airport at Cape Verde remained closed and Rikiya was in no hurry to leave. He is scheduled to film on the country’s president and Olympic committee.