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Taylor-mania hits Tokyo as Swift resumes tour before Super Bowl

by Agence France Presse

TOKYO, Japan: Taylor Swift will celebrate making Grammys history with a run of concerts in Tokyo starting Wednesday, kicking off a month of sell-out shows in Asia that will include a quick run home to see her boyfriend contest the US Super Bowl.

Excited fans queued in the cold from morning to buy merchandise at Tokyo Dome before the four shows, part of the megastar’s global Eras Tour — the first billion-dollar-tour ever.

“It’s us, hi! We are Swifties from Taiwan!” read a huge fabric banner featuring 10 pictures of Swift’s face, held up by a group of fans outside the 55,000-capacity arena.

Results of a hotly contested ticket lottery for Swift’s Japan dates were announced in July, with some fans traveling to Tokyo, even if the tour was coming to them.

“We came just for the concert as we couldn’t get tickets in Australia,” laughed 18-year-old Ebony Donohue.

“I’m so excited to finally see her. All her music is so different. She’s so relatable, and strong and amazing.”

Other fans from places Swift won’t stop this time, including Thailand, the Philippines and China, joined the vast crowd which gathered in the afternoon before the gig.

Some donned tassels, bright sequins and high-heeled boots in homage to their favorite Swift looks, while others came dressed as unicorn angels or wore official tour T-shirts.

Saya Matsuo, 25, told AFP he had been waiting years for this moment.

“I’ve been listening to her songs since I was in middle school, about 10 years. This is the first time I’ll see her in concert, and I’ve been so excited since the moment we were able to get tickets,” he said.

“She is someone who can grab people’s hearts, make people sing and dance. I love her personality.”

Swift-mania has reached fever pitch worldwide after the 34-year-old on Sunday scooped her fourth Album of the Year prize at the Grammys on Sunday.

That is the most held by any artist and breaks the joint record of three previously held by Swift and the likes of Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.

Super Bowl dash

Straight after her last Tokyo concert wraps up on Saturday, Swift will make a pit stop at this weekend’s Super Bowl, where she is expected to cheer on her current beau Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs from the VIP suites.

The pop icon will then play dates in Australia and Singapore before heading to Europe on the tour that is predicted to make a staggering estimated $2 billion.

An influx of fans to the concerts has been shown to create a so-called “Swift effect” on local economies.

Travel technology company Amadeus reported an “extraordinary increase in interest” in search traffic for travel to cities in the Asia-Pacific region visited on the Eras Tour.

Cheska Caberte, 25, from the Philippines, told AFP she had been planning her trip for six months.

Wearing a fluffy bright pink jacket and matching heart-shaped shades, Caberte she was “really excited” to meet other “Swifties”, as the star’s fans are known.

Did she think her idol will make the Super Bowl in time? “She can go back right away, no sweat — it’s Taylor Swift.”

Swift is not even the only global superstar in Tokyo this week.

Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami are facing Vissel Kobe in a pre-season friendly at Tokyo’s National Stadium on Wednesday night, but it was still uncertain whether the injured Argentina great would play.

With hundreds of millions of social media followers and a staunchly loyal fan base, politicos — and conspiracy theorists — have even opined on Swift’s potential impact on the upcoming US presidential election.

Some right-wing critics have floated the baseless theory that the pop icon’s burgeoning romance with Kelce is evidence of a “deep-state” plot to rig the Super Bowl and help get US President Joe Biden reelected.

But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has dismissed such conspiracy theories as “nonsense”.

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