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Nintendo pulled out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony at the last minute

Credit: Nintendo


Nintendo pulled out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony at the last minute


Nintendo was allegedly negotiating with Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organizers to incorporate the company’s music, sceneries, and characters. The plans  were discarded at the last minute.

Nintendo’s omission was even the more unexpected given that it was the star of Tokyo 2020’s first ceremonial appearance at the Rio 2016 closing performance, when then-prime minister Shinzo Abe emerged from a Super Mario pipe dressed as the Nintendo mascot.

According to a VGC article, Shukan Bunshun claims to have access to multiple draft scripts for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Five Nintendo-related songs were scheduled to be performed at the Parade of Nations, according to one of these scripts dated June 16th, 2021. The major themes from Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon were among the tunes included.

One composition plan dated 4th October 2020 included a suggestion to bring back the warp pipes from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics closing ceremony… with a twist. One image has Lady Gaga entering a pipe, only to reappear as comedian Naomi Watanabe (sporting a blonde wig and red cap).

The opening ceremony for Tokyo 2020 took place last week, on July 23rd, and the sole video game reference came during the Parade of Nations, the long procedure by which all 11,260 athletes competing in the games entered the stadium.

The final opening ceremony, however, did not feature any of the Nintendo songs, implying that they were deleted very late in the process.


The controversy surrounding the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games may be one of the reasons for Nintendo’s abrupt withdrawal from the Opening Ceremonies. According to recent polls, an overwhelming majority of Japanese people want the Olympic Games to be canceled, owing to the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases and the spending of public funds on the games rather than relief. Protests persisted outside the stadiums as the Games started (source: NPR), and other corporate sponsors, like as Toyota, have reconsidered their support for the Games (source: NYT).

According to Shukan Bunshun, Miyamoto once attended discussions regarding the opening ceremony, and Nintendo was supposed to oversee the event. Ultimately though, all of the music was deleted, and Nintendo was not present at the ceremony. According to Shukan Bunshun, Nintendo may have been affected by the cutting and changing of previously-planned ceremonial material.

Shigeru Miyamoto, the inventor of Mario and Zelda, is believed to have been actively engaged in developing this scene, along with choreographer Mikiko Mizuno, and, according to Bunshun, went to Tokyo every week to conduct meetings.

However, when Tokyo 2020 was postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic, a new design director, Hiroshi Sasaki, was hired in December 2020, and Mizuno departed shortly after (Sasaki himself later resigned due to a scandal).

The troubles didn’t end there: on July 20th, musician Keigo Oyamada quit as a composer for the event when an interview emerged in which he bragged about abusing disabled students. Then, a day before the event, show director Kentaro Kobayashi quit when a comedy in which he made a Holocaust joke emerged online. All of this comes after the chairman of the Tokyo games’ organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, resigned in February for making sexist remarks.

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