Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s brief but show-stopping gig at the Rio Olympics closing ceremony as the Nintendo game character Super Mario offered a tantalising glimpse at Tokyo’s plans for the 2020 games.
The organisers for the Tokyo games crammed the works into a brief two-minute film montage before Abe’s appearance: Athletes perform more than a dozen sports as landmarks like Tokyo Tower, cherry blossoms, a bullet train, Tokyo Bay Bridge and the famous “scramble” intersection in Shibuya whiz by.
Anime and video game icons like Pac Man and Hello Kitty feature, along with the beloved blue Doraemon cat, who pulls from his pocket of magic gadgets a green warp pipe to whisk Abe from his limousine in Tokyo straight to Rio.
Abe pretty much upstaged, at least on Twitter, other highlights of the Olympic finale.
Even China’s Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily, not generally a fan of the hawkish Japanese politician, put out a tweet, though without any comment: “#Japanese PM Shinzo Abe appears from imaginary tunnel, disguised as #SuperMario”.
Abe, who emerged from his Super Mario outfit in his usual get-up of a smartly tailored suit and tie, is getting mostly favourable commentary on his impersonation of the game character.
In that, the organisers gearing up in Tokyo for the 2020 games appear to have achieved what they were striving for: “Cool!” ‘‘OMG” and “I want to go to Tokyo!” were among various comments on Twitter.