Nintendo was planning to be at the Olympics opening ceremony but pulled out because most Japanese people are upset it’s going ahead.
Right from the start, video games have featured a great deal in the promotion for the Japanese Olympics, with former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even going so far as to dress up as Mario and jump out of a warp pipe at the Rio closing ceremony in 2016.
A callback to that moment was planned for the opening ceremony this year, with Japanese reports suggesting that Naomi Watanabe and Lady Gaga were due to jump out of a warp pipe with Mario hats on (or maybe Mario and Luigi outfits?) but plans were cancelled at the last minute.
It already seemed strange that the opening ceremony featured several video game tunes but nothing from Nintendo and now it’s been alleged that they cancelled their plans because most people in Japan didn’t want the Olympics to happen in the middle of a pandemic.
One thing fans often fail to appreciate is that even the strangest of Nintendo decisions make at least some kind of sense once you realise that they’re made primarily, and often solely, with Nintendo’s home audience in mind.
In this case the explanation is very straightforward: 80% of Japanese people were against the Olympics going forward at all, in the current climate, and so Nintendo didn’t want to be seen as endorsing that decision.
According to various newspaper reports in Japan, as summarised on ResetEra, as recently as June 16 (the ceremony took place on July 23) there were plans to feature Nintendo music in the opening ceremony, including ‘Super Mario Suite’, ‘Main Theme’ from The Legend Of Zelda, ‘Opening’ from Pokémon, and ‘Kirby Super Star Medley’.
The showstopper though would’ve been comedienne Naomi Watanabe and Lady Gaga jumping out of a warp pipe, although whether they had a music number planned (Watanabe is also known as the Japanese Beyoncé) is unclear.
What is clear is you shouldn’t expect to see Nintendo referenced in the closing ceremony either, not unless there’s a major change in public opinion in Japan.
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