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Super Mario or Shinzo Abe? Japan’s PM Makes a Winning Entrance in Rio

Closing Ceremony 2016 Olympic Games - Olympics: Day 16Closing Ceremony 2016 Olympic Games - Olympics: Day 16
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears during the 'Love Sport Tokyo 2020' segment during the Closing Ceremony at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. David Ramos — Getty Images

Shinzo Abe’s epic entrance at the Rio Olympics tonight pretty much couldn’t have been more flawless in kicking off the drumbeat of excitement for Tokyo 2020.

After the International Olympic Committee performed the official handoff from Rio to Tokyo at Sunday’s closing ceremony, Japan’s prime minister surprised everyone by popping up as Super Mario, an homage to Nintendo’s beloved Mario Brothers.

Before Abe’s entrance, video shown inside the Maracana Stadium had depicted “Mario” running through the streets of Tokyo and pulling out a map that highlighted Rio de Janeiro, The Associated Press reported.

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The video game character then hopped into a green warp tube. Inside the stadium, a familiar “level up” sound rang out. Out came Prime Minister Abe, complete with Mario’s familiar red cap and red ball in hand.

Plenty of viewers took to social media to cheer on the prime minister’s performance, with some even calling it best moment of the night.

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The only slight hiccup—if one could even call it that—came later, when workers had difficulty removing the tube from the stadium floor, according to the AP.