Tokyo 2020 clues: when Japan’s PM dressed up as Super Mario

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Tokyo 2020 clues: when Japan’s PM dressed up as Super Mario

  • 5 hours ago
  • From the sectionAsia
Dancers perform with Japanese flags during the closing ceremony in the Maracana stadium at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionThe handover to Tokyo2020 was an all-action affair

With athletes and viewers exhausted, the closing ceremony for Rio2016 was passing off as expected…

Until Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe popped out of a giant green pipe dressed up as video game character Super Mario, one of Japan’s best-known exports.

It was then the world got a clue that, for Tokyo2020, the next Olympic hosts would take full and shameless advantage of Japan’s pop culture icons.

Abe making pipe-dream a reality

The Tokyo2020 video beamed to audiences in Rio showed Mario running excitedly around Tokyo then jumping into his famous green pipe.

Cue the slow rise of the green pipe in Rio with a hunched Mario-like figure perched on top.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, dressed as Super Mario, holds a red ball during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 21, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / LUIS ACOSTALUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty ImagesImage copyrightAFP
Image captionPrime Minister Abe popped out of a pipe just as the Mario character he was dressed as does in the Super Mario games

Japan’s Prime Minister, not famous for his extrovert displays and pop culture references, emerges dressed as Super Mario and doffs his hat to enthusiastic crowds, then setting social media alight.

JapanImage copyrightAP
Image captionShinzo Abe going full cosplay.
Closing ceremony - Maracana - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 21/08/2016. Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe is seen on stage.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionWhat a time to be alive.
@Raitthun tweets: Image copyright@RAITTHUN
Image captionTwitter could barely contain itself

Some were quick to point out that Mr Abe was clearly the star of the show, overshadowing Tokyo’s newly-elected mayor, Yuriko Koike, who was in attendance waving the Olympic flag and dressed in a kimono.

Image copyright@2012SATURI2010
Image caption“Laughing so hard as Yuriko in expensive kimono which was ruined by the rain received the Olympic flag but outdone by Abe’s cheap Mario hat”, said this tweet

The parade ended with Mr Abe holding aloft a now glowing red ball, Japan’s rising sun.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds up a ball duirng the flag handover segment during the Closing Ceremony on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on August 21, 2016 inImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Super Mario for the uninitiated

Super Mario is a fictional character in the hugely popular Mario video game franchise created by Nintendo. A stout Italian plumber famous for his red cap and blue overalls, he has appeared in scores of video games, becoming the world’s biggest selling video game franchise of all time.

Super MarioImage copyrightYOSHIKAZU TSUNO
Image captionSuper Mario is a stout Italian plumber who is excellent at kart-racing

And what else can we look forward to in Tokyo?

Mario was not the only pop culture icon in attendance. Doraemon, the animation character with a famous magic pocket from which he can pull out gadgets from the future, also featured in a preview video, along with the mouth-less cat, Hello Kitty.

Girls touch models of Doraemon, a Japanese popular animation character, displayed at Tokyo's Roppongi Hills, 30 July 2016.Image copyrightAP
Image captionDoraemon is one of Japan’s most famous characters
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike (right) waves the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 21 August 2016, Rio.Image copyrightAFP

Some requests for Tokyo from social media

1. Please can Studio Ghibli help direct the opening ceremony? There were calls for Japan’s most famous film studio, Studio Ghibli, known for its fantastical tales and extraordinary animation to have a role in the opening ceremony.

@wendeego tweets: Image copyright@WENDEEGO

2. Can Pokemon Go become a sport in 2020? There were no Pokemon characters in the ceremony – about the only place they haven’t appeared in the past few weeks – but that did not stop people from suggesting it could become a sport in four years time.

@damienics tweets: Image copyright@DAMIENICS

3. Can Tokyo2020 be staffed entirely by robots? Many put in requests for robot volunteers to staff the Olympics or at least the ceremonies to employ robots as performers.

@tejashpatel_ tweets: Image copyright@TEJASHPATEL_

In Japan, the interest in the ceremony was also fevered, with people apparently excited and delighted by their cosplay PM’s guest appearance.

Some even felt the need to mark the once-in-a-lifetime event with caffeine.

PM Shinzo Abe pictured in a coffee art designImage copyright@GEORGE_10G
Image captionPM Abe’s face was translated into coffee art

Others, however, weren’t as impressed, with one commenting that the event was “nothing compared” to Queen Elizabeth playing a Bond girl in the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

Yet Mr Abe’s appearance has provided some form of positive coverage for the Tokyo Games, which has been plagued by controversy. Tokyo was accused of plagiarising its initial Olympic 2020 logo, which it eventually changed, and the original stadium design by architect Zaha Hadid was scrapped due to spiralling costs.

But for now, it seems many people are putting its bad publicity aside, and expecting their minds to be blown by whatever Tokyo has planned for four years’ time.

A huge message is unveiled in the main arena reading Image copyrightEPA
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One thought on “Tokyo 2020 clues: when Japan’s PM dressed up as Super Mario

  1. Pingback: End of Summer 2016 message | hugojapan

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