“Over the last 16 days a united Brazil inspired the world, in difficult times for all of us, with its irresistible joy for life.” – International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach.
Rio 2016 has officially come to a close and to mark its end, a spectacular colourful closing ceremony took place at the Maracana Stadium, with governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike formally accepting the Olympic flag.
Among the highlights was Tokyo’s presentation (as per tradition, the next hosts are allowed to showcase their plans for the next Olympics) during the official handover of the Olympic Games baton, which featured popular video game icon Super Mario.
More importantly, Mario was shown jumping into a huge green pipe in Japan before popping out in the stadium as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dressed up as the Nintendo character. The simple act of cosplay (also a popular Japanese culture) was a show-stealing sight that surprised and delighted both the audience that witnessed it live in Rio as well as billions who were watching the ceremony on TV around the world.
Tamayo Marukawa, the Japanese minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Games, told reporters in Tokyo she was not informed of Shinzo Abe’s plan to portray the popular Nintendo game character. “I didn’t know about this at all. I never imagined he would play Mario,” she said, adding that the Japanese Prime Minister should start calling himself “Shinzo Mario Abe” to raise his global profile.
Shinzo Abe, on the other hand, told reporters that he wanted to show Japan’s soft power to the world with the help of Japanese characters. “I wasn’t sure how the audience would react. But I received so many cheers. I appreciate it,” he said.
The fast-paced montage also included other Japanese pop culture heroes such as Doraemon, Capitan Tsubasa, Hello Kitty, and Pac-Man. Watch Tokyo’s awesome presentation below:
— 『S』 (@music7traveling) August 22, 2016
Rio 2016 officially closed after 16 days of competition, featuring 11,303 athletes from 206 nations and a refugee team. The ceremony also included the parade of athletes and a dramatic extinguishing of the Olympic flame.
The last time that Japan hosted the Olympic Games was back in 1964, the first ever Olympic Games held in Asia. Tokyo 2020 will kick off on 24th July 2020 and will feature 5 new sports – baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing, and surfing.