Rio handed hosting duties for the Olympic Games to Tokyo in a rain-lashed closing ceremony on Sunday. The Olympic flag was passed in style with Japan banking on pop culture and video game characters to welcome participants. However, the event at Maracana Stadium seemed destined to rise no higher than the usual fare when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an appearance disguised as Mario.
A two-minute clip showed how the Prime Minister realises that he would be late for the Games. So he morphs into the character of Mario and tries to run his way to Rio. He reaches Rio with the help of another animation character, Doraemon, which has a magic pocket with gadgets of the future. Doraemon pulls out a green pipe and Mario jumps right into it.
The pipe from the video materialises at Rio's Maracana stadium where we see Abe, dressed as Mario rising up from the pipe with a red ball (indicative of the rising sun) and signature Mario' red cap. The Mario dungaree makes way for Abe's suit. He later waves at the crowd and raises the red ball.
Social media is abuzz with comparisons between Abe's Mario entry with that of Queen Elizabeth playing a Bond girl for the London 2012 Olympics.
The video also contained some of Japan's athletes, landmarks and animated characters like Pac-Man and Hello Kitty. Previously, Japan was forced to scrap its official logo after accusation of plagiarism. A new logo was released in April.