VIDEO game icon Mario could be part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony, along with flying cars and a number of other animated characters.
Mario, the famous plumber who stars in numerous Nintendo games, is in line to take “centre stage” with organisers hoping to deliver a message of peace.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe with a Mario cap during Japan’s entrance at Rio 2016 Olympic gamesCredit: Kyodo News
A closer image of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at Rio 2016 opening ceremonyCredit: Reuters
The opening ceremony is set to take place at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo from 20:00 – 23:00 local time, although with the eight hour time difference, all the action from the opening ceremony will be live from 12pm midday for British viewers.
Who else is performing in the opening ceremony?
Organisers have said that the budget for ceremony would be around 3.5 billion yen — about £24.8m – although that has significantly dropped from its proposed £93.4m.
As with all other Olympic Games, there will be a ‘parade of nations’ and the passing of the flame.
There will also be an exhibition flight from Blue Impulse, the aerobatics squadron of the Japanese Air Self Defense Force.
Although, whilst performers for the event are yet to be announced, previous Japanese Olympic opening ceremonies have celebrated ancient Japanese culture as well as themes of international peace.
Rio 2016 olympics – opening ceremonyCredit: Reuters
Former Brazilian athlete Vanderlei Cordeiro holds the Olympic torch to light the Olympic cauldron ahead of Rio 2016 Olympics opening ceremonyCredit: AFP or licensors
Rumour for now though is that their focus will be on Japan’s technology gaming and cartoon powerhouses, which are expected to take centre stage.
At Rio 2016, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe dressed up as Mario in the handover segment of the Closing Ceremony.
Along with Mario, other Japanese characters including Hello Kitty, robotic cat Doraemon and footballer Captain Tsubasa are also expected to appear – and people riding in flying cars could be used to highlight Japanese innovation.
With the flying cars we could also see the use of hydrogen, a next-generation energy source, used as the fuel which lights the Olympic cauldron.
Japan’s fight against natural disasters could also be a theme of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, which will be held at Tokyo’s New National Stadium on July 24.
Around 16,000 people died after an earthquake and tsunami caused an accident at a nuclear power plant there in 2011.
Since 1993, a further 25 earthquakes have occurred, including 21 volcanic eruptions and a host of floods and mudslides of which have gravely affected Japan.
However as usual, all the traditional opening ceremony proceedings are expected to go ahead, including welcoming speeches, hoisting of the flags and the parade of athletes, with teams entering in alphabetical order based on the names of countries in the Japanese language for the first time.
How can I watch the opening ceremony?
The BBC and Eurosport have the rights to broadcast the Olympics this year.
As well as being broadcast live on BBC One, the opening ceremony will also be available to stream on BBC iPlayer, with extra coverage on the BBC Red Button and the BBC Sport website.