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Watch Japan's prime minister morph into Mario for the Olympics closing ceremony

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Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Countries lean heavily on national stereotypes during their Olympic ceremonies. For Brazil, it was samba and soccer; for the UK, the Spice Girls and double-decker buses. For Japan, the next host of the summer games completing the handover in Rio de Janeiro tonight, it was video games.

A two-minute clip broadcast during the 2016 Olympics closing ceremony showed Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, physically transform into Nintendo mascot Mario. Abe, sat in the back of a car in Tokyo, realizes he will be late to Rio's ceremony, and elects to swap bodies with the video game hero, a skill he didn't emphasize during his election campaign. After sprinting through the streets of Shibuya, he's joined by globular blue cat Doraemon, who presents him with a green pipe — the means by which he can burrow through the Earth to reach Brazil in just a few moments.

Fortunately, this transmogrification — however stressful on Abe's body — allows him to make it to the ceremony on time. As a video montage of Japan's athletes, sporting prowess, and famous landmarks buys him precious seconds, Abe / Mario presumably hurtles screaming through the center of our planet, before appearing from the other end of his green pipe in the middle of Rio's Maracana stadium a short while later. Tearing off his dungarees, Abe waved his floppy hat to the crowd, still clutching the red ball that serves as a logo for the upcoming Tokyo games.

The clip emphasizes the significance of video games and animated characters in Japan's projection of itself — in addition to Mario, Japan's athletes were joined by Pac-Man, Hello Kitty, and the aforementioned Doraemon. But more importantly, the footage finally explains exactly how Mario's green pipes work, explicitly tracking Abe's personal transportation device as it uses a drill to tunnel directly through the crust of the Earth. I have no idea what kind of eldritch construction is capable of withstanding the immense pressures and temperatures at the Earth's core, but given the other mutants and monstrosities present in the Mario games, we can assume that there are dark forces at work the Mushroom Kingdom.

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