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The director of the Japanese portion of the Rio Olympic closing ceremony said Friday that Mario, the video game character that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played in the event, was initially planned for a distinguished Japanese athlete.

Hiroshi Sasaki said he intended to choose someone from among former athletes to appear dressed like Mario, but as scheduling conflicts made the process difficult, 2020 Tokyo Olympic organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori suggested having Abe play the part.

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