Following the official handover of the Olympic flag from Rio to Tokyo, Abe appeared in the middle of the Maracana wearing the Nintendo character’s famed red hat, seemingly transferred there through earth via a pipe.
Tokyo’s five-minute display showed that the 2020 Games will be very different from the natural vibrance and colour of Rio. The Japan showcase also packed in a video with Pac-Man, Hello Kitty and other manga icons.
Performers in illuminated dresses and aboard scooter-like devices rode in as the field turned into the country’s Rising Sun flag.
Speaking at the buoyant closing ceremony, International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach said the Olympic Games would leave Rio de Janeiro a much better place.
Bach said athletes had sent a message to the world.
“You have shown us all the power of sport can unite the world. You are sending a powerful message of peace to the whole world.”
He added: “These were marvellous Olympic Games in the marvellous city!”
Bach overlooked numerous problems which plagued the Games, saying Rio “will have a place in our hearts forever”.
Rio’s storied Maracana Stadium was only three-quarters full due to exorbitant ticket prices.
The cheapest seats cost 200 reais ($A82) and the prime seats cost 3000 reais ($A1227) – almost half the average monthly wage in Brazil – and the stadium was sparsely populated.
And while costs of the ceremony were cut pre-Games due to Brazil’s crippling recession, cheap wasn’t nasty in a ceremony crafted on a platform of music.
The ceremony opened with original footage of Alberto Santos Dumont, the man who Brazilians recognise as the inventor of the aeroplane – they also believe he’s the first person to ever wear a wristwatch, an invention made by a friend so he could see the time when flying.
After Brazil’s national anthem anthem was sung by 27 children – representing 26 states plus the federal district – songs from arguably Brazil’s most popular singer Carmen Miranda, who achieved widespread fame in the mid-1930s, were played as athletes from 207 delegations entered the arena.
Many wore ponchos to protect from constant rain which, accompanied by swirling winds, failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the athletes.
Gold medallists were among the flag bearers, including Australian rower Kim Brennan, American Simone Biles and South Africa’s Caster Semenya, while Brazil’s flag was carried by Isaquias Queirez dos Santos, who won two silver medals and bronze in men’s canoe.
Swimmer Josh Palmer was a conspicuous absentee from the Australian contingent, banished after being found disorientated on Copacabana beach and claiming he’d been robbed during an all-night bender. But pardoned Dolphins teammate Emma McKeon was among those bobbing along under torrential rain to electro blends and Brazilian rhythms.
“Walking in to the closing with @emma_mckeon as she always deserved to do,” tweeted her brother and fellow swimmer David McKeon, along with a photo of the pair.
Like most other nations, the Aussies entered the selfie moshpit draped in ponchos that covered their bottle green and white uniforms.
“Today this incredible Olympic journey has come to an end. What an absolute privilege it was,” Matildas midfielder Katrina Gorry tweeted.
“Thank you all for your love and support! It was a big 2 weeks but you guys pulled me through!” wrote swimmer Emily Seebohm.
After being booed in his brief appearance at the opening ceremony, Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer didn’t attend the closing. Rio’s Mayor Eduardo Paes was there – and was roundly booed.
Soon, Rio’s Games will become saudade, a uniquely Portuguese word denoting the concept of missing or nostalgia.
“I don’t miss what I experienced because it has already become what I am,” is a line in the traditional Brazilian poem Saudade.
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