The Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony blessed our ears during The Parade of Nations. Popular game franchises including NieR, Chrono Trigger, Monster Hunter, Gradius and Final Fantasy were all featured in the beautiful orchestral performance. Seeing your favorite games celebrated in such a significant event fills gamers with joy.
— ☆オードリーAudrey☆ (@aitaikimochi) July 23, 2021
That being said, a feeling of hollowness ran through my veins after the parade: It is too hard not to notice the absence of Nintendo’s franchises (The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Super Mario, etc). Considering the gaming giant’s prominence not only in Japan but also across the world, its absence is rather confounding.
After all, Nintendo was one of the highlights of the Rio Olympics’ closing ceremony. In a one-minute video, the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, transformed into Mario and leaped into the pipe from Tokyo to Rio. The video ended with the Prime Minister wearing Mario’s costume on the stage. Nintendo’s strong involvement in the last Olympic Games somewhat suggests its return in the 2020 Olympics, especially since it is being hosted by Japan.
Thankfully, insomnia resulting from this mysterious absence will no longer exist. Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun gained first-hand access to 10 scripts detailing Nintendo’s events in the Olympics. Translated by VGC, Nintendo was originally planning to perform five tracks during the opening ceremony. There was also supposed to be a collaboration between Nintendo, Lady Gaga and comedian Naomi Watanabe.
According to Shukan Bunshun, Shigeru Miyamoto, the director of the Zelda and Mario franchises, was meeting with choreographer Mikiko Mizuno “almost every week” in order to design the opening sequence. However, Mizuno was subsequently replaced by Hiroshi Sasaki, who later resigned after his derogative comments about Japanese comedians and models. Sasaki allegedly made a lot of changes derailing from the original plans, which causes Nintendo to pull out shortly before the ceremony. The company reportedly had “mixed feelings” about this decision.
Bunshun also reached out to Nintendo, asking questions based on the leaked scripts. But the company refused to comment on this affair.