The Super Mario brand was prominent in the Tokyo handover at the Rio Olympics closing ceremony
The Super Mario brand was prominent in the Tokyo handover at the Rio Olympics closing ceremony (Image: Nintendo / IOC)

The Tokyo Olympic Games are currently well underway, with thousands of athletes competing at the highest level in empty arenas due to current public health concerns in the city. It's been a contentious event, with various polls suggesting low support for the Games in Japan, and on the business side various major sponsors have scaled back or withdrawn their involvement.

During the opening ceremony there was an extensive section, as athletes were introduced, in which music from an assortment of major gaming franchises was played. As many pointed out there was no music from Nintendo franchises or Pokémon, which seemed significant especially in light of Nintendo's prominent role in Tokyo's handover at the Rio Olympics closing ceremony. It seems clear that Nintendo would have been asked about appearing.

An extensive report at bunshun.jp addresses the Opening Ceremony of the Games, and it's an investigative piece that states it's seen 11 varied scripts from throughout the creative process (and multiple project leads). It seems there were three key segments - of varying importance - that were planned with Nintendo at different points.

One plan that seemingly got cut around October 2020 was for a return of the green Mario pipe seen in the Rio Games handover, with Lady Gaga initially pitched to 'emerge' in a Mario hat.

The bigger aspect of Nintendo's involvement was for an impressive early sequence that would have been inspired by "the 8-bit world of video games" (that translation is via VGC); Shigeru Miyamoto was heavily involved in the creative process, attending 'weekly' meetings in Tokyo for some time. It is suggested that Nintendo had 'mixed feelings' when that concept was eventually cut.

Coming back to the music segment from the ceremony, it seems the decision for Nintendo and Pokémon music to not feature was made relatively late. A draft of the script dated 16th June this year stated that tracks for Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon were all planned; none appeared in the final show.

Nintendo was approached and declined to comment, according to Bunshun.

If you read a translation of the article it's certainly interesting, as it assesses the many disruptions, costs and changes to the opening ceremony. It's clearly been a source of controversy and disappointment among some in Japan.

Let us know what you think of these revelations in the comments.

[source bunshun.jp, via videogameschronicle.com]