As the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics draws to a close, it’s time for one last nod to the athletes who demonstrated their appreciation for Japanese anime and video games on the world stage.
The Uzbekistan rhythmic gymnastics team wore costumes inspired by Sailor Moon in their performance on Saturday. The team finished ninth in the qualifier.
Miren! De verdad lpm que precioso todo, el traje, el opening de Sailor Moon, la rutina 🥺💜
El equipo de Uzbekistán se gano mi corazon
— MiLi⁷𐤀🏳️🌈 (@MiLiKookTae) August 7, 2021
The team also performed the routine at the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup series qualifiers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in April.
Russia’s synchronized swimming champion Svetlana Alekseyevna Romashina told the press that she was initially planning to retire after the 2016 Olympics, but seeing the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s performance as Mario at Rio de Janeiro’s closing ceremony was what gave her the motivation to compete in Tokyo.
Romashina is a Japanophile who says she loves sushi, and was excited by the display of Japanese culture. After the 2016 Olympics, she took time off from swimming to give birth to her first child but resumed training in 2018. After winning her seventh Olympic gold medal on Saturday, she announced her retirement.
Meanwhile, the Australian artistic swimming team performed to the 2006 PlayStation 2 RPG Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia opening theme song “Utau Oka” (Singing Hill). The original song was performed by Yona of the Dawn and Tales of Symphonia the Animation theme song vocalist Akiko Shikata. The game also inspired an OVA in 2006.
— まいみー (@h_cotoro) August 7, 2021
Australia placed ninth in the event on Saturday.
Other athletes to make anime references include archery bronze medalist Takaharu Furukawa, who referenced Is the order a rabbit? in a post-match interview, while silver medalist Deng Yu-Cheng became an internet sensation due to his social media posts about anime.
Last Tuesday, boxing gold medalist Sena Irie told press that because she’s a big fan of video games, she’d like to work in the games industry after she retires from boxing.
Japanese pop culture has been a key aspect of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with the opening ceremony featuring video game tunes and placards evoking manga. The closing ceremony included a Ska performance of LiSA‘s “Gurenge” opening theme song from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Top stars from the Takarazuka Revue sang the Japanese national anthem.