Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an appearance at the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics yesterday, dressed as his country's biggest video game star.

Emerging from a green warp-pipe in the middle of the ceremony's stadium venue, clad as Mario, Abe quickly shed the overalls but saluted the audience with Mario's trademark red cap.

Mario also appeared in the two-minute video leading up to the Prime Minister's reveal, joined by fellow video game character Pac-Man and a host of other Japanese pop-culture icons.

The prominence of Mario in the traditional handover ceremony speaks to Nintendo's influence and reputation worldwide.

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Mario and Sega star Sonic have appeared in video games based on the Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games.

They will surely return to virtual competition when the Games hit Tokyo in summer 2020.

- gameplanet.co.nz