At the conclusion of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, then-Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe emerged out of a huge Warp Pipe wearing Super Mario garb to commemorate that the 2020 Olympic Games were coming to Tokyo. Regardless of how you feel about Abe’s politics, it was a pretty awesome and energizing sight to behold, and the theatrical displays before and after were epic in scale. However, as Brian Ashcraft at Kotaku relays in translating a Nikkan Sports interview, Abe wasn’t actually keen on dressing up for the Rio Olympics.
“To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled when (Tokyo 2020) President (Yoshiro) Mori first told me about it,” he said. “Initially, I wondered if it were okay for the Prime Minister to take on the appearance of Mario, but the Olympics wanted to get rid of political overtones as much as possible.” Mori said that because Shinzo Abe was an internationally recognized figure that he had to do it, though why exactly that is the case isn’t clear. He of course ultimately agreed to come up the pipe as Mario, but due to delays in the program, Abe ended up waiting in the Warp Pipe for over 10 minutes.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games 2020 launched a year ago and was the best entry in the series. Alas, COVID-19 delayed the actual 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo to 2021, and Shinzo Abe stepped down as prime minister in September due to ulcerative colitis. Life seldom goes according to plan.