It is around 2 in the afternoon, a pretty hot day in Incheon. John Dyck has been waiting at the entry gate of the Asian Games Athletes' Village for more than two hours now. An empty Coke can and a half-eaten packet of Oreo cookies lies underneath his chair, and that has been pretty much his only meal of the day. (Full Asian Games Coverage)
John is a games pin collector from Canada, and after five Olympics and one Commonwealth Games, he is in Incheon, for his very first Asian Games. Business has not been that great so far though. The competition has just about started warming up, and John has managed to trade just eight pins in two hours.
"That's pretty pathetic", he says. Pin trading is almost a sub-culture at multi-disciplinary events. Many call the art of pin collecting the 'Games, outside the Games.' And with his collection of more than 12,000 pins that he has been collecting since 1986, John is a veteran, to say the least. (Medal Tally)
"There was the Vancouver Expo in 1986, that's when I started collecting them", says John, even as games volunteers, athletes, games officials pass by, stopping by to take a look at his collection that's on display on the ground.
"There are a lot of pins you can't get buy, you only have to trade them. I have my Olympic collection, and now a very nascent Asian Games collection so far."
Of course, just trading pins can't buy him air tickets for these prestigious events. John is a warehouse worker in Vancouver. His typical day at an event like this starts at the entry or exit points of the athletes' village, after which he moves from one venue to another, in the hope of trading pins. Things have already picked up here, and he has exchanged four pins with the locals in the course of our conversation.
Like any other collection, John's pin collection needs care too, "They are fragile things, and get scratches easily. You want to have a collection that looks nice, isn't it? I know I will never get all the pins I wanted, but it's still quite an accomplishment. After I stop collecting pins, maybe after 5-10 years, I will just want to see these things on my wall. It'll be nice, don't you think", says John. He is proud of his existing collection, but there's one he badly wants. "I would like to trade pins with Usain Bolt. I hope to go to Rio. I know there will be a lot of security concerns, but things like that ususally don't stop people. "
Well, it looks like it's not just Bolt, but John too, who now has his eyes set on Rio 2016. Albeit for different reasons.