As the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil came to a close on Sunday night, it was time for the Olympic torch to start making its way toward the site of the next Summer Games: Tokyo, Japan.
Following Olympic custom, the Japanese Olympic committee staged a theatrical introduction to their upcoming Games at the end of Sunday’s closing ceremony in Rio, and they did it with the help of one of their county’s most recognizable characters.
Japan’s impressive intro video -- featuring some of the country’s standout athletes and pop culture touchstones -- was capped off by a cameo from prime minister Shinzo Abe, who transformed himself into the beloved video game character, Mario, and took a Nintendo-style warp pipe all the way to the Maracana stadium!
Abe -- who, according to NBC’s Bob Costas, told reporters that he was more excited to win the Olympics for his country than he was to win his own election -- then emerged from the pipe in the middle of the ceremony, donning Mario’s signature red cap and holding a glowing red ball that symbolizes the red sun in the center of the Japanese flag.
The Internet, of course, loved every moment.
Ima let you finish but Shinzo Abe had the best entrance of all time pic.twitter.com/uQsQt5SmLI— Olympic Bun (@Rxbun) August 22, 2016
Super Mario just emerged from a giant pipe in the middle of the stadium and IT WAS THE PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN #ClosingCeremony— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 22, 2016
SON CAME OUT AS SUPER MARIO 😭😭😭😭😭— The Kid Mero (@THEKIDMERO) August 22, 2016
It’s going to be four long years, but we can’t wait for what will surely be an impressive opening ceremony at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics!