1964 Summer Olympics

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Games of the XVIII Olympiad
Tokyo 1964 Summer Olympics logo.svg
Host city Tokyo, Japan
Nations participating 93
Athletes participating 5,151
(4,473 men,
678 women)
Events 163 in 19 sports
Opening ceremony October 10
Closing ceremony October 24
Officially opened by Emperor Shōwa
Athlete's Oath Takashi Ono
Olympic Torch Yoshinori Sakai
Stadium Olympic Stadium

The 1964 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVIII Olympiad (第十八回オリンピック競技大会 Dai Jūhachi-kai Orinpikku Kyōgi Taikai), was an international multi-sport event held in Tokyo, Japan, from October 10 to 24, 1964. Tokyo had been awarded the organization of the 1940 Summer Olympics, but this honor was subsequently passed to Helsinki because of Japan's invasion of China, before ultimately being canceled because of World War II.

The 1964 Summer Games were the first Olympics held in Asia, and the first time South Africa was barred from taking part due to its apartheid system in sports.[1][2] (South Africa was, however, allowed to compete at the 1964 Summer Paralympics, also held in Tokyo, where it made its Paralympic Games debut.)[3] Tokyo was chosen as the host city during the 55th IOC Session in West Germany, on May 26, 1959.

These games were also the first to be telecast internationally without the need for tapes to be flown overseas as they were for the 1960 Olympics four years earlier. The games were telecast to the United States using Syncom 3, the first geostationary communication satellite, and from there to Europe using Relay 1.[4] These were also the first Olympic Games to have color telecasts (partially). Certain events like the sumo wrestling and judo matches, sports huge in Japan, were tried out using Toshiba's new color transmission system, but only for the domestic market. History surrounding the 1964 Olympics was chronicled in the 1965 documentary film Tokyo Olympiad, directed by Kon Ichikawa.

The games were scheduled for mid-October to avoid the city's midsummer heat and humidity and the September typhoon season.[5] The previous Olympics in Rome in 1960 started in late August and experienced hot weather. The following games in 1968 in Mexico City also began in October.

Host city selection

Tokyo won the rights to the Games on May 26, 1959, at the 55th IOC Session in Munich, West Germany, over bids from Detroit, Brussels and Vienna.[6]

Toronto was an early bidder again in 1964 after the fail attempt for 1960 and failed to make the final round.[7]

1964 Summer Olympics bidding result[8]
City Country Round 1
Tokyo  Japan 34
Detroit  United States 10
Vienna  Austria 9
Brussels  Belgium 5


Yoshinori Sakai running
to the Olympic cauldron.
  • Yūji Koseki composed the theme song of the opening ceremony.
  • Yoshinori Sakai, who lit the Olympic Flame, was born in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day an atomic bomb was dropped on that city.
  • Kumi-daiko was first exhibited to a world-wide audience at the Festival of Arts presentation.[9]
  • Judo and women's volleyball, both popular sports in Japan, were introduced to the Olympics.[10] Japan won gold medals in three judo events, but Dutchman Anton Geesink won the Open category. The Japanese women's volleyball team won the gold medal, with the final being broadcast live.
  • The women's pentathlon (shot put, high jump, hurdling, sprint and long jump) was introduced to the athletics events.
  • Reigning world champion Osamu Watanabe capped off his career with a gold medal for Japan in freestyle wrestling, surrendering no points and retiring from competition as the only undefeated Olympic champion to date at 189–0.
  • Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina won two gold medals (both for the third time in a row in Team Competition and Floor Exercise events), a silver medal and two bronze medals. She held the record for most Olympic medals at 18 (9 gold, 5 silver, 4 bronze) which stood until broken by American swimmer Michael Phelps in 2012.
  • Czechoslovakian gymnast Věra Čáslavská wins 3 gold medals, including the individual all-around competition, crowning her the new queen over the reigning champion Larisa Latynina.
  • Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser won the 100 m freestyle event for the third time in a row, a feat matched by Vyacheslav Ivanov in rowing's single scull event.
  • Don Schollander (USA) won four gold medals in swimming.
  • Abebe Bikila (Ethiopia) became the first person to win the Olympic marathon twice.
  • New Zealand's Peter Snell won a gold medal in both the 800 m and 1500 m.
  • American Billy Mills, a little-known distance runner, shocked everyone when he won the gold in the men's 10,000 m. No American had won it before and no American has won it since.
  • British runner Ann Packer set a world record in becoming the surprise winner of the 800 m, having never run the distance at international level before the Games.
  • Bob Hayes won the 100 m title in a time of 10.0 seconds, equaling the world record. He had run a wind-assisted 9.9 seconds in the semifinal, but this was not recognized as a world record. He later won a Super Bowl ring as a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys and was the second gold medalist elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (following Jim Thorpe).
  • Joe Frazier, future heavyweight champion of the world, won a gold medal for the USA in heavyweight boxing.
  • This was the last Summer Olympics to use a cinder running track for athletic events, and the first to use fiberglass poles for pole vaulting.
  • Unfortunately for Japan, several big international events also took attention during the Olympics, including the sudden removal of Nikita Khrushchev and the first nuclear test in China.
  • The nation of Malaysia, which had formed the previous year by a union of Malaya, British North Borneo and Singapore, competed for the first time in the Games.
  • The US men's swimming team won all but three gold medals (7 out of 10).


The 1964 Summer Olympic programme featured 163 events in the following 19 sports:

Note: In the Japan Olympic Committee report, sailing is listed as "yachting".[10]

Demonstration sports


All dates are in Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
 ●  Opening ceremony     Event competitions  ●  Event finals  ●  Closing ceremony
Date October


Field hockey
Football (soccer)

Modern pentathlon

Water polo

Total gold medals 1 4 3 17 19 12 12 13 17 9 14 13 27 2
Date 10th

Medal count

These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1964 Games.

 Rank  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  United States 36 26 28 90
2  Soviet Union 30 31 35 96
3  Japan (host nation) 16 5 8 29
4  United Team of Germany 10 22 18 50
5  Italy 10 10 7 27
6  Hungary 10 7 5 22
7  Poland 7 6 10 23
8  Australia 6 2 10 18
9  Czechoslovakia 5 6 3 14
10  Great Britain 4 12 2 18

Conventionally, countries are ranked by the number of gold medals they receive, followed then by the number of silver medals and, finally, bronze.[11]

Participating National Olympic Committees

Number of athletes per country

A total of 93 nations were represented at the 1964 Games. Sixteen nations made their first Olympic appearance in Tokyo: Algeria, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire (as Ivory Coast), Dominican Republic, Libya (but it did not compete), Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Northern Rhodesia (which achieved full independence as Zambia on the same day as the closing ceremony), Senegal, and Tanzania (as Tanganyika). Athletes from East Germany and West Germany competed together as the United Team of Germany from 1956 to 1964. Supporting the People's Republic of China (Mainland China), Indonesia was banned for this Olympic Games, due to its objection to Taiwanese participation under the name "China" 1962 Asian Games.

Participating National Olympic Committees
  •  Libya also took part in the Opening Ceremony, but its lone athlete (a marathon runner) withdrew from competition.[12]


Yoyogi National Gymnasium, designed by Kenzo Tange
Nippon Budokan

Transportation and communications

These games were the first to be telecast internationally. The games were telecast to the United States using Syncom 3,[13] the first geostationary communication satellite, and from there to Europe using Relay 1, an older satellite which allowed only 15–20 minutes of broadcast during each of its orbits.[14][15] Total broadcast time of programs delivered via satellite was 5 hours 41 minutes in the United States, 12 hours 27 minutes in Canada, and 14 hours 18 minutes in Europe. Pictures were received via satellite in the United States, Canada, and 21 countries in Europe.[16]

TRANSPAC-1, the first trans-Pacific communications cable from Japan to Hawaii was also finished in June 1964 in time for these games. Before this, most communications from Japan to other countries were via shortwave.[16]

The start of operations for the first Japanese "bullet train" (the Tokaido Shinkansen) between Tokyo Station and Shin-Ōsaka Station was scheduled to coincide with the Olympic games. The first regularly scheduled train ran on October 1, 1964, just 9 days before the opening of the games, transporting passengers 515 kilometers (320 mi) in about 4 hours, and connecting the three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka.

Some already-planned upgrades to both highways and commuter rail lines were rescheduled for completion in time for these games. Of the 8 main expressways approved by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 1959, No. 1, No. 4 and a portion of No. 2 and No. 3 were completed for the games. Two subway lines totaling 22 kilometers (14 mi) were also completed in time for the games, and the port of Tokyo facilities were expanded to handle the anticipated traffic.[17]


The 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo celebrated Japan's progress and reemergence on the world stage. The new Japan was no longer a wartime enemy, but a peaceful country that threatened no one, and this transformation was accomplished in fewer than 20 years.[18]

Although Japan's foreign policy was closely linked to the United States during the Cold War, the city of Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics in the spirit of peaceful engagement with the entire international community, including the Communist states. The goals were to demonstrate to the world that Japan had fully recovered from the war, had disavowed imperialism and militarism, welcomed high-caliber sports, and sought to engage the peoples of the world on a grassroots level. Sports were kept entirely separate from politics. The event proved a great success for the city and for Japan as a whole, with no untoward incidents. Japan's foreign-policy was expanded to include sports diplomacy as the nation sent teams to international competitions across the globe.[19]

To host such a major event, Tokyo's infrastructure needed to be modernized in time for large numbers of expected tourists. Enormous energy and expense was devoted to upgrading the city's physical infrastructure, including new buildings, highways, stadiums, hotels, airports and trains. There was a new satellite to facilitate live international broadcast. Multiple train and subway lines, a large highway building project, and the Tokaido Shinkansen, the fastest train in the world, were completed. Haneda International Airport and the Port of Tokyo were modernized. International satellite broadcasting was initiated, and Japan was now connected to the world with a new undersea communications cable.[16] The YS-11, a commercial turboprop plane developed in Japan, was used to transport the Olympic Flame within Japan.[20] For swimming, a new timing system started the clock by the sound of the starter gun and stopped it with touchpads. The photo finish using a photograph with lines on it was introduced to determine the results of sprints. All of this demonstrated that Japan was now part of the first world and a technological leader, and at the same time demonstrated how other countries might modernize.[18] In preparation for the games, 200,000 stray cats and dogs were rounded-up and euthanized.[21]

Unfortunately, however, the construction projects resulted in some environmental damage, forced relocations for some residents, and loss of some industries. In addition, corruption by politicians and construction companies resulted in cost overruns and some shoddy work.[21]

Although public opinion about the Olympics in Japan had initially been split, by the time the games started almost everyone was behind them. The broadcast of the opening ceremony was watched by over 70% of the viewing public, and the women's volleyball team's gold medal match was watched by over 80%.[18]

As with many other Olympics, observers later stated that 1964 Olympic preparation and construction projects had had a negative effect on the environment and lower income people.[22]

The Cary Grant film Walk, Don't Run was filmed during the Tokyo Olympics, and set in Tokyo during the Olympics. A message at the beginning of the film thanks the Japanese Government and Tokyo Police for putting up with them filming in crowded Tokyo.

The Studio Ghibli film From Up on Poppy Hill takes place one year before the Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo has attempted to bring the Olympic Games back to the city, having unsuccessfully bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, which were awarded to Rio de Janeiro. Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics and 2020 Summer Paralympics games.[23] Tokyo will be the first Asian city to host the games twice.

Boycotting countries

North Korea withdrew its athletes from Japan just before the beginning of the Olympics when the IOC refused the athletes who participated in the GANEFO (Games of the New Emerging Forces) which was held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia and China also did not attend the 1964 Summer Olympics due to GANEFO issues.

See also


  1. BBC On This Day, 18 August, "1964: South Africa banned from Olympics".
  2. "Past Olympic Host City Election Results". GamesWeb.com. Archived from the original on September 15, 2008. Retrieved September 23, 2008. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. South Africa at the Paralympics, International Paralympic Committee
  4. "The Miami News - Google News Archive Search". The Miami News. Retrieved October 10, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Griggs, Lee (October 28, 1963). "A very dry run in Tokyo". Sports Illustrated: 64.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "IOC Vote History". Aleksandr Vernik. Retrieved October 10, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/07/24/toronto-has-made-5-attempts-to-host-the-olympics-could-the-sixth-be-the-winner.html
  8. "Past Olympic host city election results". GamesBids. Archived from the original on March 17, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Varian, Heidi (2013). The Way of Taiko: 2nd Edition. Stone Bridge Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 1611720125.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Organizing Committee 1964, pp. 43–44
  11. "Olympic Games Tokyo 1964 – Medal Table". Archived from the original on October 6, 2009. Retrieved October 11, 2009. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Complete official IOC report. Volume 2 part 1 (PDF). Retrieved October 17, 2012. Fighi Hassan, Suliman - LIBYA - Absent Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "For Gold, Silver & Bronze". TIME magazine. October 16, 1964. Retrieved January 5, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Martin, Donald H. (2000). Communications Satellites (fourth ed.). El Segundo, CA: The Aerospace Press. pp. 8–9. ISBN 1-884989-09-8. Retrieved October 31, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Significant Achievements in Space Communications and Navigation, 1958–1964" (PDF). NASA-SP-93. NASA. 1966. pp. 30–32. Retrieved October 31, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Organizing Committee 1964, pp. 381–400
  17. Organizing Committee 1964, pp. 47–49
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Droubie, Paul (July 31, 2008). "Japan's Rebirth at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics". aboutjapan.japansociety.org. About Japan: A Teacher's Resource. Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Jessamyn R. Abel, "Japan's Sporting Diplomacy: The 1964 Tokyo Olympiad," international History Review (2012) 24#2 pp 203-220.
  20. Organizing Committee 1964, pp. 245–269
  21. 21.0 21.1 Whiting, Robert, "Negative impact of 1964 Olympics profound", Japan Times, 24 October 2014, p. 14
  22. Whiting, Robert, "Negative impact of 1964 Olympics profound", The Japan Times, 25 October 2014, p. 14
  23. "Japan's Capital Tokyo to host 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games". Retrieved September 8, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Organizing Committee for the Games of the XVIII Olympiad (1964). THE GAMES OF THE XVIII OLYMPIAD TOKYO 1964: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee. Organizing Committee for the Games of the XVIII Olympiad.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
Summer Olympic Games

XVIII Olympiad (1964)
Succeeded by
Mexico City