Wow, what an honour. If anyone was under any illusion about just how much gaming (and in this case retro gaming in particular) has become a part of mainstream culture, then look no further than last night’s Rio Olympics closing ceremony. Yep, you didn’t see that wrong, that really is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as Super Mario.
With the closing of every Olympic Games, it’s customary for the Olympic Torch to be passed from one host nation to the next. As part of this the next hosts normally showcase the very best in terms of both what their country is known for, and what it has to offer. So, what with the next Olympic Games being Tokyo 2020, it was time for the Japan to take centre stage.
However, in amongst the historical temples of Asakusa, the bustling modern metropolis of Shibuya, and even alongside Japanese icons such as Doraemon and Hello Kitty, it was Super Mario who took centre stage. What’s more, if you’re to believe the Rio Olympics closing ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is Super Mario’s secret identity.
Just take a look at the video below and you’ll see how this all went down. After speeding through Japanese athletes performing alongside iconic scenes of Tokyo and Japanese culture (of which Pac-Man is also featured), we finally see Super Mario running across Shibuya Crossing with a red ball in his hand. At this point Doraemon helps him jump into a famous green pipe.
What do we see on the other end of this pipe though? Well none other than the current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who appears appears on the other end inside Rio’s Olympic stadium dressed as Super Mario. Yes it was not the normal exchange of the Olympic Torch, but it was everything we love about Japan.
This isn’t the first time Mario has been associated with the Olympic games though, having starred in the wildly popular Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series. However, if there ever was an honour to be bestowed on one of retro gaming’s icons then this was it.
Ultimately. this scene really does embody just how far retro gaming has come since the 80s. So much so that one of gaming’s most famous icons has just taken centre stage on one of the most globally popular television events in the world. Not just that, but he’s also representing his country whilst doing it.
Commiserations must go to Sonic who was seemingly overlooked for this prestigious task. Nevertheless, this was quite the honour for Nintendo’s iconic plumber, and will definitely go down as a very proud moment for anyone who has lived and breathed gaming since the 8-bit days. おめでとうございますマリオさん。