TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s brief but showstopping gig at the Olympics closing ceremony as the Nintendo game character Super Mario offered a tantalizing glimpse at Tokyo’s plans for the 2020 games.

The organizers for the Tokyo games crammed the works into a brief two-minute film montage before Abe’s appearance: athletes participating in more than a dozen sports, as iconic Japanese images like Tokyo Tower, cherry blossoms, a bullet train, Tokyo Bay Bridge and the famous “scramble” intersection in Shibuya whiz by.

Anime and video game characters including Pac Man and Hello Kitty are featured, along with the beloved blue Doraemon cat, who pulls from his pocket of magic gadgets a green warp pipe to whisk Abe, transformed briefly into Super Mario, from his limousine in Tokyo straight to Rio.

Abe emerges atop the “pipe” in a big red Super Mario cap and costume, holding a glowing red ball kicked to him by famed manga soccer star Captain Tsubasa.

Tokyo 2020 organizers said in a statement that the Super Mario idea came up during a brainstorming session. Staff at Nintendo would say only that the government asked to borrow the character for the show.

At least on Twitter, Abe pretty much upstaged other highlights of the Olympics finale.

Even China’s Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily, not generally a fan of the hawkish Japanese politician, put out a tweet, though without any comment: “#Japanese PM Shinzo Abe appears from imaginary tunnel, disguised as #SuperMario”.

Abe, who emerged from the Super Mario outfit in his usual get-up of a smartly tailored suit and tie, was getting mostly favorable commentary on his impersonation of the game character.

As they gear up for the 2020 games, the organizers appear to have achieved what they were striving for: “Cool!” ”OMG” and “I want to go to Tokyo!” were among various comments on Twitter.

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This story has been corrected to show that Abe was not the originator of the Super Mario idea.

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Before the United States started wracking up medals in Rio (and before #Lochtegate was a thing!), some of the buzz at the 2016 Summer Olympics was centered around appearances. Many wondered, what are those mysterious purple circles covering the shoulders, backs and legs of so many athletes? And why is Michael Phelps Instagramming it? It turns out, there’s no cause for alarm. Those bruises are just the result of an ancient Chinese medicinal practice called cupping.

It’s pretty simple and not exactly scientifically proven to work, yet world-class athletes have embraced cupping for its pain-relieving and recovery benefits. Small glass cups are heated up and placed on the body. The skin underneath each cup is suctioned upward for a few minutes, causing capillaries to break and blood to circulate to the area. Then the body knows it’s time to get to work and start rebuilding that tissue quickly.

“The cupping actually jump-starts the body’s natural healing process. You can increase blood flow and let the body do what it does to help resolve the issue,” says Dr. Houman Danesh of Mount Sinai Hospital.

And it’s not just your favorite gymnasts and swimmers that have become cuppers. There are physical therapy, chiropractor and acupuncture clinics around the United States that offer cupping therapy to patients, in conjunction with other treatments, to relieve chronic pain and help speed up healing. Cupping is also said to help reduce stress, improve skin conditions and even aid digestion issues.

So what do you think? Would you try it? Do you think this trend will catch on? Vote and tell us what you think — you can even submit video comments to nbt@channelone.com. We will feature the results of the poll and some of your comments on the show!

 

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Luis Cessa stood in the dugout before his first major league start with nerves building as each minute passed. A pregame ceremony ran long, and anticipation built for his first-inning showdowns with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

By the time he released his first pitch, he was at ease.

Cessa pitched six scoreless innings to win his first start and help the New York Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 on Saturday night.

“You always worry about how kids are going to react,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You wonder how he’s going to react to that, waiting and waiting and he can’t wait to get out there. But I thought he handled that really well.”

Brian McCann went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and a run, Starlin Castro went 2 for 4 with two runs and Aaron Judge drove in two. Gary Sanchez hit his fifth home run in six games in the first inning, a two-out solo homer to left field.

Pujols got his 583rd home run in the ninth inning, tying him with former St. Louis Cardinals teammate Mark McGwire for 10th on the career list.

“I think it would have been a little bit more special if we had won,” Pujols said. “But to tie with Mark is very special because he’s a very close friend of mine. We stay in touch and he’s a guy that always helps me out whenever I go through a slump and a guy that mentored me.”

Pujols already had a congratulatory text from McGwire and one of his sons waiting for him after the game.

“He was always pulling for me from day one,” Pujols said. “The whole reason I’m in the big leagues is because when he was in St. Louis he told (former manager Tony LaRussa), ‘You need to take this kid.'”

Cessa (3-0) struck out five and walked one. He struggled just twice, giving up back-to-back two-out singles in the third and hitting Trout in the sixth. An early 3-0 lead further relaxed Cessa.

“I was more aggressive,” Cessa said. “I could throw more fastballs and be more aggressive with everyone.”

After giving up a single to Jefry Marte in the seventh, Cessa was relieved by Tyler Clippard, who nearly gave up a home run to C.J. Cron, but Brett Gardner dived into the stands in left to make the out.

“Right off the bat, I thought it was a home run,” Girardi said. “And then he got closer and closer and I thought, ‘Maybe, maybe. Stay in here, stay in here.’ Outstanding catch. That was a big out.”

After giving up three earned runs in the first inning, Ricky Nolasco (4-11) settled in to cruise through the next five. But with two outs in the sixth, Nolasco gave up back-to-back singles to Castro and McCann. With Judge batting, McCann stole second base — his first steal of the year — allowing both runners to score on Judge’s single to center.

Nolasco gave up five earned on seven hits with seven strikeouts and still hasn’t won at home since May 25, 2015, as a member of the Minnesota Twins. His 15-game home winless streak is the longest active streak in baseball.

ANDERSON’S DAY

Garret Anderson was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame on Saturday. Anderson spoke during a pregame on-field ceremony that included speeches and videos from former teammates, including Tim Salmon and Chili Davis.

One of the most productive offensive players in club history, Anderson is still the Angels’ leader in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, total bases, extra-base hits, doubles and RBI. Anderson spent 15 of his 17 major league seasons with Los Angeles and is best known for his bases-clearing three-run double that helped the Angels clinch Game 7 of the 2002 World Series.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: 3B Chase Headley was out of the lineup for the second day with left Achilles tendinitis. Although Headley has been playing on it, he said he’s been having problems for about a week.

Angels: 3B Yunel Escobar was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list after taking a foul ball off of his face on Friday night. Kaleb Cowart was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake to take his place on the roster. … RHP Cam Bedrosian hasn’t thrown for two straight days. Manager Mike Scioscia said he’s in a “holding pattern.” Bedrosian was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 9, with right middle finger tendinitis.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Chad Green will make his sixth major league start in the series finale. Green struck out a career-high 11 in his start against Toronto and is 2-2 with a 4.05 ERA in his fifth stint with the Yankees this season.

Angels: RHP Jhoulys Chacin lasted only 4 2/3 innings in his last start on Tuesday against Seattle, but didn’t factor into the decision. In his only start against the Yankees, Chacin allowed five earned runs on seven hits and took the loss.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers were almost through parading the American flag around the track — celebrating a bronze medal of all things — when their names flashed on the big board, along with two letters: “DQ.”

The smiles — gone.

Those medals — might be gone, too.

This nightmare — it never ends for the U.S. men in sprint relays.

Rodgers and Gatlin were ruled to have passed the baton before the start of the first passing zone in the men’s 4×100 relay won Friday night by Usain Bolt and Jamaica. After the disqualification, the bronze went to Canada.

Tyson Bromell ran the anchor leg and finished third behind Jamaica and surprising Japan. The American fell over the finish line and was nursing his injured foot while his teammates celebrated what they thought was a bronze medal, which would have been considered a debacle all of its own back in the day.

At this point, they’d take it.

The U.S. protested the call. A decision is expected later Saturday morning. If the disqualification holds up, it will mark the ninth time since 1995 that the U.S. men have somehow botched the relay at a world championship or Olympics.

“It’s always something weird, stupid, simple mistakes that always cost us and I don’t understand,” said Gay, who cost the U.S. another medal, its silver from the London Olympics, because of a doping positive. “We had great sticks in practice, great everything and something so simple — I can’t say anything but bad luck.”

Video replays show a clean handoff from Rodgers to Gatlin, but are less clear about whether Gatlin had taken possession of the stick before Rodgers got it inside the start of the 20-meter passing zone.

Rule 170.07 in the track and field handbook reads: “The baton shall be passed within the takeover zone. The passing of the baton commences when it is first touched by the receiving athlete and is completed the moment it is in the hand of only the receiving athlete. In relation to the takeover zone, it is only the position of the baton which is decisive. Passing of the baton outside the takeover zone shall result in disqualification.”

Hours earlier, down on the track, the runners huddled around a TV monitor and nodded their heads when they saw the replay.

“It was the twilight zone. It was a nightmare,” said Gatlin, who won silver in the 100 sprint, but didn’t make the final of the 200 and could go home empty in the relay, as well. “You work so hard with your teammates, guys you compete against almost all year long. All that hard work just crumbles.”

All those miscues for the country with arguably the deepest pool of sprinting talent, even with Bolt in the mix, has cost them medals and sent the team back to the drawing board time and again.

Dennis Mitchell, who won the relay gold at the Barcelona Games but also has a doping past, is the current coach. Whatever he was teaching didn’t quite hold up.

And this time, the way the Americans received the news was especially cruel.

“Hell, we already did a victory lap,” Gay said. “Right before we were about to talk to TV, they told us.”

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Latest on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (all times local):

1:45 a.m.

How did Usain Bolt celebrate winning a ninth Olympic gold medal?

He went into a darkened Olympic Stadium, surrounded by volunteers — and started throwing a javelin.

Really.

After his news conference ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Jamaican sprint superstar who says the Rio Games are his last Olympics came back onto the track with most of the lights in the stadium having already been turned off.

Bolt took a couple throws of the javelin, the last one going about 50 meters.

He posed for some pictures afterward, the javelin — which he requested a formal measurement of — still stuck in the Olympic Stadium turf.

Bolt’s final throw, by the way, would have earned him a sixth-place finish at this year’s Jamaican national championships.

———

1:30 a.m.

Don’t think the United States is the only squad with disqualification problems.

Britain was thrown out of the 4×400 meter final for a bad changeover of the baton in the first heat. The British team protested the exclusion but it was denied.

Britain had won its heat and stood a good chance of medaling in Saturday’s final. At their home Olympics four years ago, they finished fourth.

———

12:40 a.m.

Usain Bolt bid a blazing-fast farewell to the Rio Games — and likely the Olympics altogether — with yet another anchor leg for the ages.

He turned a close 4×100 relay race against Japan and the United States into a never-a-doubt runaway, helping Jamaica cross the line in 37.27.

Bolt’s record in Olympic finals is nine races, nine wins. Nobody’s done that before, and nobody’s on the horizon to do it again soon.

After his 4×100 win he said: “I am just relieved. It’s happened. I am just happy, proud of myself. It’s come true.”

Japan won the silver medal, finishing .33 seconds behind.

Meanwhile, the U.S. team was disqualified — again.

The disqualification came after the U.S. exchanged illegally outside the zone at the first change. As a result, Canada was elevated to the bronze-medal position.

It was the ninth time since 1995 that the U.S. men have been disqualified or failed to get the baton around at an Olympics or world championships.

———

12:25 a.m.

There was an unusual guest joining the raucous Brazilian crowd at the men’s volleyball semifinals.

A large bat started flying around the Maracanazinho arena as Brazil played Russia for a spot in the final.

The bat went across the court above the players then started flying low near the fans on the stands, amusing the crowd and momentarily taking its attention away from the match.

Some fans had to duck as the animal went around a few times before eventually finding its way out through one of the exits.

The match was not interrupted, and Brazil went on to win in three sets to reach its fourth straight Olympic final.

———

12 a.m.

Brazil defeated defending Olympic champion Russia 25-21, 25-20, 25-17, to reach the final of the men’s volleyball tournament for the fourth straight time.

The hosts will play Sunday’s final against Italy, which outlasted the United States in a five-setter in Friday’s other semifinal.

Brazil won the gold in 2004 in Athens, but is coming off losses in the last two Olympic finals. It was defeated by Russia in 2012 in London.

Italy won the bronze in 2012.

———

11:15 p.m.

Usain Bolt has completed his triple-triple, anchoring the Jamaica 4×100-meter relay to victory in the final to ensure three gold medals at three consecutive Olympics.

The U.S. team was disqualified — again.

Bolt waved the baton to the crowd after coasting across the finish in a winning time of 37.27 seconds for his ninth Olympic gold medal.

Japan took silver in 37.60, with Aska Cambridge holding off American Trayvon Bromell by 0.02.

The U.S. team was later disqualified for exchanging illegally outside the zone at the first change, and Canada was elevated to the bronze-medal position in a national record 37.64.

It was the ninth time since 1995 that the U.S. men have been disqualified or failed to get the baton around at an Olympics or world championships.

The Japanese team was technically flawless and had the lead going into the last baton change, but Bolt pulled away, as he has done so often, in what is most likely to be his last run at the Olympics.

———

10:55 p.m.

DISQUALIFICATION ALERT: The U.S. men’s relay has done it again, being disqualified after crossing the line in third place in the men’s 4×100.

Canada was elevated to third place on Friday in a national record 37.64 seconds.

Usain Bolt anchored Jamaica to yet another win — his ninth Olympic gold medal — and Japan finished a surprising second.

The team from Trinidad and Tobago was also disqualified.

———

10:52 p.m.

Jenn Suhr broke down in tears after failing to defend her gold medal in the pole vault and said she’s scared about her health.

The American says she’s been sick for 10 days, was coughing up blood Friday and is now concerned her illness is worse than a respiratory infection.

Suhr said she vomited twice during Friday night’s pole vault and began crying as she discussed how she trained for four years for a repeat gold but is feeling sicker than she’s ever felt in her life.

Suhr eliminated with a mark of 4.60 and placed equal-seventh

Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece won the gold medal in the women’s pole vault with a mark of 4.85 meters.

———

10:55 p.m.

Cheick Sallah Sisse of the Ivory Coast has won the men’s taekwondo gold medal in the 80-kilogram division after defeating Britain’s Lutalo Muhammad in a finish that saw him surge ahead in the last second of the match.

Sisse won Friday by a score of 8 to 6.

Although Muhammad was leading through most of the fight, Sisse landed a back kick just as the match ended to put him ahead.

Sisse, seeded third, won the African Championships this year in addition to the German Open. Muhammad previously won a bronze at the London Games.

The men’s bronze medals were won by Tunisia’s Oussama Oueslat and Milad Beigi Harchgani of Azerbaijan.

———

10:45 p.m.

MEDAL ALERT: Usain Bolt has completed his triple-triple, anchoring the Jamaica 4×100-meter relay to victory in the final to ensure three gold medals at three consecutive Olympics.

Bolt, who has won the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay gold medals at Beijing, London and now Rio, crossed in 37.27 seconds on Friday.

Japan set an Asian record to take the silver in 37.60, holding off the third-place Americans by 0.02.

———

10:40 p.m.

MEDAL ALERT: Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece has won the gold medal in the women’s pole vault with a mark of 4.85 meters.

Sandy Morris of the United States, silver medalist at the world indoors, took silver on a countback at the same mark and Eliza McCartney won the bronze in a New Zealand national record 4.80.

Defending champion Jenn Suhr of the United States was eliminated with a mark of 4.60 and placed equal-seventh.

———

10:40 p.m.

Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya won the women’s 5,000 meters gold in Rio after overtaking Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia and setting an Olympic record of 14 minutes, 26.17 seconds.

The 32-year-old Cheruiyot adds the Olympic title to two world championships in the 5,000 meters and one in the 10,000. She took silver in the 5,000 at the London Games four years ago.

It initially appeared that Ayana would go for a second world record, after already setting a massive new mark in the 10,000 on the opening morning of the track program last week. But the efforts of the Olympic week appeared to catch up with her as she slumped late in the Saturday night race.

Ayana set off strongly and seemed to take the lead for good after one third of the race. But fatigue caught up with her and Cheruiyot and compatriot Hellen Obiri, who won the bronze, saw their chance.

———

10:35 p.m.

The U.S. women have retained the 4×100-meter relay title and helped Allyson Felix win her record fifth Olympic gold medal.

The Americans, who needed to set a qualifying time in a solo rerun hours after dropping the baton in the preliminaries and getting a second chance on protest, won the final in 41.01 seconds.

It was an impressive comeback after near disaster on Thursday, when Felix dropped the baton after being bumped by a Brazilian runner. That led to the re-run, and the Americans qualified fastest, taking the place of China in the final.

A Jamaican team containing Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, took silver in 41.36. Britain won bronze in a national record 41.77.

The 30-year-old Felix entered the games as one of six women with four Olympic gold medals in track and field.

Felix ran the second leg for the Americans, the same section as 100- and 200-meter gold medalist Thompson, and passed to English Gardner, who ran a powerful curve to give her team the lead.

Tori Bowie ran the anchor leg and held off Fraser-Pryce as the Americans only narrowly missed the world record.

———

10:35 p.m.

MEDAL ALERT: Dilshod Nazarov of Tajikistan won the hammer throw at the Olympics, beating veteran Ivan Tsikhan of Belarus for gold.

Nazarov threw 78.68 meters on his penultimate attempt on Friday, while 40-year-old Tsikhan had 77.79. Wojciech Nowicki of Poland took bronze with 77.73.

———

10:35 p.m.

Denmark will face France in the Olympic men’s handball final after beating Poland 29-28 in extra time semifinal.

Traditionally a power in the women’s game, but having never won an Olympic medal, Denmark will be the underdog Sunday against a French team which is reigning Olympic and world champion.

Poland had taken Friday’s game to extra time with Michal Daszek’s goal to tie the score two seconds before the end of the second half. However, good shooting and big saves from goalkeeper Niklas Landin Jacobsen brought Denmark the win.

Earlier, France beat European champion Germany 29-28 in the first semifinal. France can become the first men’s team to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals if it beats Denmark on Sunday.

———

10:35 p.m.

MEDAL ALERT: South Korea’s Oh Hye-Ri has won the women’s 67-kilogram taekwondo gold medal, proving once again that the country that created the martial art can sometimes still dominate.

Oh defeated France’s top-seeded Haby Niare in a tense, action-packed final. Although Oh didn’t score until the second round, she quickly landed numerous head shots within about 30 seconds to take a definitive lead.

Oh won by a score of 13 to 12.

South Korea won only one gold medal at the London Games and has now doubled its count at Rio, after So-Hui Kim took gold in the women’s light flyweight category on Wednesday.

The women’s bronze medals were won by Ruth Gbagbi of the Ivory Coast and Turkey’s Nur Tatar.

———

10:25 p.m.

MEDAL ALERT: The U.S. women have retained the 4×100-meter relay title and helped Allyson Felix win her record fifth Olympic gold medal.

The Americans, who needed to set a qualifying time in a solo rerun hours after dropping the baton in the preliminaries and getting a second chance on protest, won Friday’s final in 41.01 seconds.

A Jamaican team containing Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, was second in 41.36. Britain won bronze in a national record 41.77.

The 30-year-old Felix entered the games as one of six women with four Olympic gold medals in track and field. .

——

10 p.m.

MEDAL ALERT: Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya set an Olympic record to win gold in the 5,000 meters, coming from behind to beat favorite Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia.

Cheruiyot went past Ayana with less than two laps to go and could not be caught as she finished in 14 minutes 26.17 seconds. Hellen Obiri of Kenya took silver 3.60 second behind.

Ayana, the 10,000 Olympic champion, finished in third in 14:33.59.

———

9:55 p.m.

UPSET ALERT: Jenn Suhr, the gold medalist at the London Olympics, is out of medal contention in the women’s pole vault after failing to clear 4.70 meters. There were still six vaulters in the competition.

The 34-year-old American had been sick and was “coughing up blood,” her husband/coach Rick Suhr said before Friday’s final.

———

9:40 p.m.

American swimmer Gunnar Bentz is back home, and he says he never lied about being robbed while out with teammates on the final night of Olympic swimming.

In a statement released late Friday, he says he never saw anyone break down a bathroom door, and that the swimmers relieved themselves on nearby bushes after a night out.

He says teammate Ryan Lochte tore a sign down from the building, and then the four returned to their taxi.

He says they were ordered out of the cab by security guards and ultimately forced, with guns drawn, to sit on a nearby sidewalk. He says then, Lochte got up and yelled at the guards.

A translator assisted and told them they needed to pay money to leave, Bentz says. He and teammate Jimmy Feigen paid about $50 in total, and he says the guns were lowered and they were allowed to leave.

Bentz also says there were additional video angles that support his account that may not have been released.

———

9:40 p.m.

Javon Francis overtook David Verburg just before the finish to give Jamaica first spot in the first of the men’s 4×400-meter relay preliminaries at 2 minutes, 58.29 seconds, 0.09 ahead of the American team, which led most of the race.

Britain won the second heat in 2:58.88, holding off the Belgian team, which set a national record 2:59.25 to advance with the fourth-fastest time.

The men’s final will be the last track event in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

———

9:35 p.m.

Allyson Felix may get another chance at an Olympic gold medal, regardless of what happens in the 4×100-meter relay final, after the United States qualified fastest for Saturday’s 4×400 relay final.

Phyllis Francis anchored the 4×400 relay in the first of two preliminaries Friday night and finished 20 meters clear of second-place Ukraine in a season-best 3:21.42. Poland and Australia were third and fourth to reach the final.

Jamaica won the second 4×400 qualifying heat in 3:22.38, followed by Britain and Canada.

World champion Felix placed second in the 400, missing a record fifth Olympic gold medal. She did not run in the 4×400 preliminaries — which were scheduled less than two hours before the 4×100 final — but would be an obvious contender for a spot in the U.S. team for the 4×400 final.

After the race, Francis played it coy when asked if Felix would the run the final, saying she’d leave the final lineup a mystery. One problem — Felix already has said she’d run.

———

9:10 p.m.

American swimmer James Feigen is on his way home from Brazil.

The U.S. Olympic Committee says Feigen is on a flight that left Rio de Janeiro on Friday night.

Feigen is the last of the four U.S. swimmers involved in a highly-publicized incident at a Rio gas station to leave the country.

Earlier this week, a judge ordered Feigen’s passport be seized while police investigated what swimmer Ryan Lochte initially described as an armed robbery.

Police said the robbery story was fabricated and that the swimmers vandalized a gas station bathroom early Sunday after a night of partying.

Before he was allowed to leave, Feigen agreed to pay $10,800 to a Brazilian charity.

———

AP Summer Games website: http://summergames.ap.org