Tokyo Summer Olympic Games 1964 | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

Tokyo Summer Olympic Games 1964

By Ferinmi Jun 30, 2019

The Olympic Games is one of the biggest international sports events. Athletes from around the world participate in various types of sports competitions. The Olympic Games are held every four years with the summer or winter sports games. In 2020, Japan will be a host for the summer Olympics. This will be the second time that the Games will be held in Tokyo following the 1964 Games. Likewise, This will be the first time that the Paralympic Games will be held for the second time in the same city. It is officially known as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad or Tokyo 2020. Let’s go back to the first Olympics host for Japan in 1964. That time was the first time ever for the Olympic games to be held in Asia. The official name for the 1964 Olympic Games is known as the Game of the XVIII Olympiad. It was an international sporting event which was held in Tokyo, Japan, from the 10th until the 24th of October 1964.

How was Japan able to host the 1964 Olympics?


South Africa was banned from taking a place to be a host for Olympics games in 1964 because of its apartheid system in sports at the time. Thus, Tokyo, Japan was selected as the host city during the 55th IOC Session (International Olympic Committee Session) in West Germany on the 26th of May 1959. South Africa was allowed to compete at the 1964 Summer Paralympics. However, the Paralympic Games was also held in Tokyo, Japan. South Africa made its Paralympic Games debut at the 1964 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan. That was the first time ever for the Paralympic Games.
The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sporting event which allows athletes with disabilities to compete in the events. The Paralympic Games are usually set up with the Olympics Games, the IOC recognized Special Olympics World Games include intellectually disabled athletes and the Deaflympics (World Games for the deaf and International Games for the Deaf) competing at an elite level.


How did It Influence Japan? What Kind of Legacy has been Left?



The first international telecast


The 1964 Olympic Games was the first to be internationally telecast without tape recording and being sent out overseas. The game was telecasted to the United States using Syncom three and to all European countries by using Relay one. Syncom three is the first geostationary communication satellite. The 1964 Olympic Games was the first Olympic Games to broadcast color telecasts, albeit partially to the world. It was also the first Olympics to use computers to keep statistics.

Olympic Games’ documentary

The history of the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games was chronicled in the 1965 documentary film “Tokyo Olympiad” which was directed by Kon Ichikawa and Abebe Bikili with Jack Douglas as the main actor in the film. Kon Ichikawa had received the order from the Japanese government to record the 1964 Olympics. The Japanese Government was not impressed with his work because they wanted to show everyone the greatest Olympics ever. Ichikawa made a different Olympic Games recording by representing the greatest athletes as normal people for 169 minutes.  The Japanese Government wanted to edit the film, making it shorter to be about 93 minutes. However, the original work of Ichikawa became one of the best documentaries in the world. Furthermore, this DVD can be ordered from Amazon. The price of this film is $279. 

The first runner who won the Olympic marathon twice

Abebe Bikila is an Ethiopian marathon runner. He won the first gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and his second gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He entered the marathon field wearing Puma shoes, while at the previous 1960 ‘s Olympic Games in Rome he ran in bare feet. Thus, he became the first marathoner to successfully defend an Olympic marathon title. Aside from his marathon running, he was a member of the Ethiopian Imperial Guard, an elite infantry division that safeguarded the Emperor of Ethiopia. The emperor promoted him to be the commissioned officer rank of Metoaleqa.

The bullet train – 東海道 新幹線 (To kai do Shin kan sen)


The first operations for the first bullet train in Japan called To kai do Shin kan sen happened around the same time. The service between Tokyo station and Shin Osaka station. It was scheduled to coincide with the Olympic games. The first regularly scheduled train ran on the 1st of October 1964, nine days before the opening ceremony of the games, which started on the 10th of October. Nowadays, the 10th of October is a national holiday date in Japan. This bullet train took only four hours to transport passengers between three major cities in Japan which were Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka.

Tokyo Monorail

Japan intensively improved its public transportation. The Tokyo Monorail was built and opened in the same year as the 1964 Olympics for transporting visitors and foreign travelers from Haneda airport to inside Tokyo city. This convenient form of public transportation is still widely used. 

New sports were introduced to the Olympic Games

Judo and volleyball were introduced to the Olympics. These two sports were popular sports in Japan. Japan won the gold medal in three Judo events and the Japanese women’s volleyball team won the gold medal too. 

Sporting List for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics:
(There were many different sports in the 1964 Summer Olympics)
Cycling Road
Cycling Track
Equestrian Dressage
Equestrian Eventing
Equestrian Jumping
Field hockey
Modern Pentathlon
Water polo
Wrestling Freestyle
Wrestling Greco-Roman

Venues of the 1964 Summer Olympics

A total of 33 sports venues were used during the 1964 Summer Olympics, including new venues, renovated venues and temporary buildings inside Tokyo and other prefectures including Kanagawa, Osaka, Kyoto, and Saitama.

The Venues for the 1964 Olympic Games:
Asaka Nezu Park
Asaka Shooting Range
Chofu city
Enoshima in Kanagawa
Fuchu city
Hachioji City
Hachioji Velodrome
Karasuyama City
Komazawa Gymnasium
Komazawa Hockey Field
Komozawa Stadium
Komazawa Volleyball Courts
Korakuen Ice Place
Lake Sagami
Mutsuzawa Football Field
Nagai Stadium in Osaka
National Gymnasium
National Stadium
Nippon Budokan Hall
Nishikyogoku Athletic Stadium in Kyoto
Omiya Football Field in Saitama
Prince Chichiba Memorial Football field
Sasazuka city
Shibuya Public Hall
Toda Rowing Course
Tokorozawa Shooting Range
Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium
Tokyo Metropolitan Indoor Swimming Pool
Waseda Memorial
Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium
Yoyogi National Gymnasium

Independence Zambia

Zambia declared its independence on the day of the closing ceremony of the 1964 Summer Olympic Games. Zambia became the first country to have entered the Olympic Games as one country and left it as another.

How did Japan show Itself to the world?


The First Olympics Host in Asia

It was of huge significance for Japan to be a host for the 1964 Olympic Games as they returned to the global stage as a peaceful, economically confident nation. Nevertheless, Tokyo, Japan had also previously won the right to host the 1940 Olympic Games. They were rejected because of the start of World War II and threats of boycott over Japan’s military incursions into China. The games did not continue until the 1948 London Olympics. During that time, Japan had lost World War II and had been occupied by the Allied powers led by the United States. The symbol of Japan’s recovery from World War II was Yoshinori Sakai who was born in Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. This was the date that the atomic bomb devastated the city. Thus, he was chosen to carry the Olympic torch in the opening ceremony for the 1964 Olympic Games. It symbolized Japan’s progress and reemergence to the world stage again. The new Japan was no longer a wartime enemy, but a peaceful country that threatened no one. The 1964 Olympic games for Japan was a successful sporting event. Japanese athletes won sixteen gold medals, five silver medals, and eight bronze medals, ending up in third place for the medal totals after the United States (who won 36 gold medals) and the Soviet Union (who won 30 gold medals).

The 1964 Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony

The 1964 Summer Olympics closing ceremony was also impressive to everyone. The athletes from each country entered informally, despite plans to have a formal entrance. This represented the harmony between athletes from different countries around the world. They did not sort athletes into their respective countries. So, some athletes rushed to the field, held each other’s hands or even did piggybacks. This did, however, create a disorganized parade and chaotic spectacle, but in the end, everyone was smiling and filled with happiness. The athletes stood in a circle holding lights and the large display above the field arranged to read ‘SAYONARA’ (meaning goodbye). The national anthems of Japan, Greece, and Manioc were played because they were the next Olympic Games host country. The closing ceremony ended with fireworks and ‘
蛍の光’ (Hotaru no Hikari = Glow of a firefly) was sung by the audience in the National Olympic Stadium. This song was first introduced in a collection of singing songs for elementary school students in 1881. The lyrics describe an image of hardship that students bear in their relentless mission in gaining knowledge, straining with the firefly’s light they used to keep studying when they had no other light sources. Likewise, it is commonly heard in graduation ceremonies and at the end of the school day.


What did Japan Learn from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics?


A lot of people in middle-class Japan rushed to buy a television set to watch the opening ceremony for the games and the closing ceremony, as well as buying other household appliances because the opening ceremony games and closing ceremony of the 1964 Olympic Games were telecasted worldwide. This created a specific term called ‘Olympic economy’. The economy in Japan had skyrocketed during that time. Tokyo had also become a beautiful city. Japanese Government promoted Tokyo into a hygienic city by not only cleaning the streets and rivers in Tokyo but also planting greenery as well which was a legacy that lived on in Tokyo city. The also renovated and reformed buildings, hotels and the airports.

Prime minister Mr. Abe said 

‘Tokyo was chosen to host the 1964 Olympics in 1959, 
just 14 years after the end of the World war II. 
We were much poorer than we are today, but Japanese back then 
was passionate about hosting the Olympics in Tokyo, 
and that passion fueled the success of the games.’

The 2020 Olympics Medals

The 2020 Summer Olympics is scheduled to take place from the 24th of July until the 9th of August 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. The 125th IOC Session was in Buenos Aires on the 7th of  September 2013, Tokyo was chosen as the host city for the Olympic Games among Istanbul and Madrid. This will be the first return of the Summer Olympics to Tokyo since 1964. There are many highlights for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. One of them is the Olympic Medals. The Tokyo Organizing Committee declared that an electronic recycling program is in a partnership with the Japan Environmental Sanitation Center and NTT Docomo. They were solicited to donate the electronic waste; such as mobile phones; to be reclaimed as the materials for the medals in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

The 2020 Olympics Tickets

The price for an opening ceremony ticket for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games starts from 12,000 yen and can go up to 300,000 yen; whereas the price for a closing ceremony ticket starts from 12,000 yen and goes up to around 220,000 yen. A symbolic ticket of 2,020 yen for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, will be sold for families, groups residents in Japan and in conjunction with a school or university program. Tickets will be sold in over 40,000 shops in Japan and by mail order to Japanese addresses via the internet.

The 2020 Olympic Torch

The Olympic flame is generally involved with a context of peace and hope. It has come to be the most powerful symbol of the Olympic movement. Furthermore, the ‘parade of the flame’ represents the Olympic ideals of peace, unity, and friendship. The slogan for the 2020 Summer Olympics is ‘Hope Lights Our Way’. This is sponsored by Coca-Cola, NTT Docomo, Toyota and Nippon Life. The cauldrons will be placed in the Olympic Stadium. After the opening ceremony, the flame will be transferred to the waterfront near the
夢の大橋 (Yu me no O ha shi bridge) and the stadium cauldron will not be extinguished until the closing ceremony.

The torch was designed based on the Japanese cherry blossom flower (Sakura) in a gold and sakura color by Tokurin Yoshioka. As everyone knows that the Cherry blossom flower is one of the most beautiful symbols of Japan, it was decided to model the torch based on this. It was made from the recycled aluminum from Fukushima.

For more information about the Tokyo Summer Olympics, please check their official website. Japanese, English, and French are available.