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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 Showa
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, was an international multi-sport event held in JapanTokyo, Japan in 1964. Tokyo had been awarded with 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] (South Africa was, however, allowed to compete at the 1964 Summer Paralympics, also held in Tokyo, where it made its Paralympic Games début.[2]) These games were also the first to be telecast internationally. The games were telecast to the United States using Syncom 3, the first geostationary communication satellite, and from there to Europe using Relay 1.



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.

Here are the voting results for the host selection, from the International Olympic Committee Vote History web page.

1964 Summer Olympics Bidding Results
City NOC Name Round 1
Tokyo  Japan 34
Detroit  United States 10
Vienna  Austria 9
Brussels  Belgium 5


Yoshinori Sakai lights 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.
  • Judo and women's volleyball, both popular sports in Japan, were introduced to the Olympics.[3] 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 Larissa 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 ended her Olympic career and holds the record for most Olympic medals at 18 (9 gold, 5 silver, 4 bronze) since then.
  • 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 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.
  • Bob Hayes won the 100 m title in a time of 10.0 seconds, equaling the world record. He had run the distance in 9.9 seconds in the semifinal but this was not recognized as a world record as it was wind assisted. He went on to win a Super Bowl ring as a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • 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.


Note: In the Japan Olympic Committee report, sailing is listed as yachting.[3]

Demonstration sports

Medal count

These are the top ten nations that won medals at these 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 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.[4]

Participating nations


A total of 94 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, 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 Libya withdrew from competition after the Opening Ceremony, so a total of 93 nations actually competed. Athletes from East Germany and West Germany competed together as the United Team of Germany from 1956-1964.



Yoyogi National Gymnasium, designed by Kenzo Tange
  • Yoyogi Area
    • Yoyogi National Gymnasium, just South of the main Olympic Village, housed swimming and basketball events. This complex comprises two structures designed by architect Kenzo Tange for these games, plus ancillary spaces. The main gymnasium was designed to host all of the swimming and diving events. The smaller annex building hosted basketball. A 50 meter practice pool was placed under the main public walkway between the buildings, and is still in use as a public swimming pool.
    • The Olympic Village, a redeveloped United States Army barracks originally called "Washington Heights," was located South and West of the Meiji Shrine and North of the Yoyogi National Gymnasium.[5] This area now includes (North to South) the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center, Yoyogi Park,[6], and the NHK Broadcast Center.[7]
    • Shibuya Public Hall, just South and West of the National Gymnasium, hosted weightlifting events.
Nippon Budokan
  • Nippon Budokan, or Japan Martial Arts Hall, was built to house the judo events, and was used for demonstrations of traditional Japanese sports (Budō) such as kendo (fencing), kyudo (archery) and sumo (wrestling). It is now one of Tokyo's best-known concert venues.
  • Komazawa Olympic Park in Setagaya
    • Komazawa Stadium hosted track and field events.
    • Komazawa Gymnasium hosted wrestling events.
    • Komazawa Volleyball Court hosted volleyball.
    • Komazawa Hockey Fields (1 & 2) hosted all hockey events.
  • Korakuen Ice Palace hosted Boxing events.
  • Waseda University hosted Fencing events.
  • Baji Koen hosted Equestrian events.
  • Hachiōji Velodrome hosted Track Cycling events.

Outside of Tokyo

Transportation and communications

These games were the first to be telecast internationally. The games were telecast to the United States using Syncom 3,[8] 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.[9][10] 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.[11]

The first trans-Pacific communications cable from Japan to Hawaii was also finished in June 1964 in time for these games. Prior to this, most communications from Japan to other countries was via shortwave.[11]

Although not specifically built for the Tokyo Olympics (it is not mentioned in the official organizing committee report), 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 1 October 1964, just 9 days before the opening of the games, transporting passengers 515.4 kilometers (320.3 mi) in about 4 hours, and connecting the three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Kyoto, 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 21.9 kilometers (13.6 mi) were also completed by for use during the games, and the port of Tokyo facilities were expanded to handle the anticipated traffic.[12]


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 less than 20 years.[13]

To accomplish this, Tokyo's infrastructure needed to be modernized in time for large numbers of expected tourists. 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.[11] The YS-11, a commercial turboprop plane developed in Japan, was used to transport the Olympic Flame within Japan.[14] 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.[13]

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%.[13]

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.


See also


  1. ^ "Past Olympic Host City Election Results". Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  2. ^ South Africa at the Paralympics, International Paralympic Committee
  3. ^ a b THE GAMES OF THE XVIII OLYMPIAD TOKYO 1964: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee, vol. 1, 43–44
  4. ^ "Olympic Games Tokyo 1964 - Medal Table". Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  5. ^ THE GAMES OF THE XVIII OLYMPIAD TOKYO 1964: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee, vol. 1, 347
  6. ^ " Yoyogi Park". Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  7. ^ "Aerial view of main Olympic areas as they now stand.". Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  8. ^ "For Gold, Silver & Bronze". TIME magazine. October 16, 1964.,9171,876272,00.html. 
  9. ^ Martin, Donald H. (2000). Communications Satellites (fourth ed.). El Segundo, CA: The Aerospace Press. pp. 8–9. ISBN 1-884989-09-8. Retrieved 2009-10-31. 
  10. ^ "Significant Achievements in Space Communications and Navigation, 1958-1964". NASA-SP-93. NASA. 1966. pp. 30–32. Retrieved 2009-10-31. 
  11. ^ a b c THE GAMES OF THE XVIII OLYMPIAD TOKYO 1964: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee, vol. 1, 381-400
  12. ^ THE GAMES OF THE XVIII OLYMPIAD TOKYO 1964: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee, vol. 1, 47-49
  13. ^ a b c Droubie, Paul (2008-07-31). "Japan's Rebirth at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics". About Japan: A Teacher's Resource. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  14. ^ THE GAMES OF THE XVIII OLYMPIAD TOKYO 1964: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee, vol. 1, 245–269


External links

Preceded by
Summer Olympic Games

XVIII Olympiad (1964)
Succeeded by
Mexico City

Simple English

File:1964 Olympic games
Countries participating in the 1964 Summer Olympics olympics. Blue countries are participating for the first time, green have participated before.

The 1964 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVIII Olympiad, were celebrated in Tokyo, Japan from October 10, 1964, through October 24, 1964.

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Olympic Games
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Games in italics will be held in the future, and those in (brackets) were cancelled because of war. See also: Ancient Olympic Games

Youth Olympic Games
Summer Games:2010, 2014, 2018
Winter Games:2012, 2016
Singapore 2010Innsbruck 2012Nanjing 2014

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