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Japan’s Prime Minister Dressed as Mario for the Olympic Closing Ceremonies

After weeks of watching the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and the U.S. men’s basketball team, we must now say goodbye to the 2016 Olympics. And boy did the games close out in style.

A portion of this year’s closing ceremonies, which took place yesterday, featured a teaser for the 2020 Olympics, which will be hosted by Tokyo, Japan. The minutes used to pass the torch from Rio to Tokyo included a video montage featuring classic Japanese imagery like cherry blossoms, a bullet train, and video game characters like Pac-Man, Hello Kitty, and, of course, Mario.

The Nintendo mascot’s appearance was of particular note. In the video, the character is seen jumping down a green warp pipe to get from Japan to Rio, with a special “TOKYO” hat and a red ball in hand. The other end of the pipe existed in live, real-life Rio, and from it emerged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in costume as Mario. He waved his Mario-style hat at the crowd, then raised his own glowing red ball in the air as a message was projected on the floor: “SEE YOU IN TOKYO.”

Nintendo didn’t say much about their involvement in the closing ceremonies, just that the government asked for permission to incorporate Mario into their presentation. Still, what better way to generate buzz around Tokyo 2020 than by using one of the country’s most visible and passionately loved cultural exports of the past 30 years? And who knows: Maybe it’ll move more copies of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Featured image: @NBCOlympics

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