1964 Summer Olympics

Last updated
Games of the XVIII Olympiad
Tokyo 1964 Summer Olympics logo.svg
Host city Tokyo, Japan
Athletes5,151 (4,473 men, 678 women)
Events163 in 19 sports (25 disciplines)
Opening10 October
Closing 24 October
Opened by
Stadium National Stadium
Rome 1960 Mexico City 1968
Innsbruck 1964 Grenoble 1968

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

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

Hepburn romanization is a system for the romanization of Japanese that uses the Latin alphabet to write the Japanese language. It is used by most foreigners learning to spell Japanese in the Latin alphabet and by the Japanese for romanizing personal names, geographical locations, and other information such as train tables, road signs, and official communications with foreign countries. Largely based on English writing conventions, consonants closely correspond to the English pronunciation and vowels approximate the Italian pronunciation.

A multi-sport event is an organized sporting event, often held over multiple days, featuring competition in many different sports among organized teams of athletes from (mostly) nation-states. The first major, modern, multi-sport event of international significance is the modern Olympic Games.


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. [2] [3] (South Africa was, however, allowed to compete at the 1964 Summer Paralympics, also held in Tokyo, where it made its Paralympic Games debut.) [4] Tokyo was chosen as the host city during the 55th IOC Session in West Germany, on 26 May 1959.

1964 Summer Paralympics

The 1964 Summer Paralympics, originally known as the 13th International Stoke Mandeville Games and also known as Paralympic Tokyo 1964, were the second Paralympic Games to be held. They were held in Tokyo, Japan, and were the last Summer Paralympics to take place in the same city as the Summer Olympics until the 1988 Summer Paralympics.

South Africa at the 1964 Summer Paralympics

South Africa made its Paralympic Games début at the 1964 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.

These games were also the first to be telecast internationally without the need for tapes to be flown overseas, as they had been 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. [5] These were also the first Olympic Games to have color telecasts, albeit partially. Certain events like the sumo wrestling and judo matches, sports huge in Japan, were tried out using Toshiba's new colour 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.

1960 Summer Olympics Games of the XVII Olympiad, celebrated in Rome in 1960

The 1960 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event that was held from August 25 to September 11, 1960, in Rome, Italy. The city of Rome had previously been awarded the administration of the 1908 Summer Olympics, but following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906, Rome had no choice but to decline and pass the honour to London.

Syncom started as a 1961 NASA program for active geosynchronous communication satellites, all of which were developed and manufactured by Hughes Space and Communications. Syncom 2, launched in 1963, was the world's first geosynchronous communications satellite. Syncom 3, launched in 1964, was the world's first geostationary satellite.

Geostationary orbit circular orbit above the Earths equator and following the direction of the Earths rotation

A geostationary orbit, often referred to as a geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO), is a circular geosynchronous orbit 35,786 km (22,236 mi) above Earth's equator and following the direction of Earth's rotation. An object in such an orbit appears motionless, at a fixed position in the sky, to ground observers. Communications satellites and weather satellites are often placed in geostationary orbits, so that the satellite antennae that communicate with them do not have to rotate to track them, but can be pointed permanently at the position in the sky where the satellites are located. Using this characteristic, ocean-color monitoring satellites with visible and near-infrared light sensors can also be operated in geostationary orbit in order to monitor sensitive changes of ocean environments.

The games were scheduled for mid-October to avoid the city's midsummer heat and humidity and the September typhoon season. [6] 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.

Typhoon type of tropical cyclone

A typhoon is a mature tropical cyclone that develops between 180° and 100°E in the Northern Hemisphere. This region is referred to as the Northwestern Pacific Basin, and is the most active tropical cyclone basin on Earth, accounting for almost one-third of the world's annual tropical cyclones. For organizational purposes, the northern Pacific Ocean is divided into three regions: the eastern, central, and western. The Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) for tropical cyclone forecasts is in Japan, with other tropical cyclone warning centers for the northwest Pacific in Hawaii, the Philippines and Hong Kong. While the RSMC names each system, the main name list itself is coordinated among 18 countries that have territories threatened by typhoons each year A hurricane is a storm that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean or northeastern Pacific Ocean, a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, and a tropical cyclone occurs in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

The 1968 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XIX Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in Mexico City, Mexico, from October 12th to the 27th.

The 1960's Olympics were also the last to use a traditional cinder track for the track events. A smooth, synthetic, all-weather track was used for the first time at the 1968 Olympics and at every Olympiad thereafter.

Host city selection

Tokyo won the rights to the Games on 26 May 1959, at the 55th IOC Session in Munich, West Germany, over bids from Detroit, Brussels and Vienna. [7]

West Germany Federal Republic of Germany in the years 1949–1990

West Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, and referred to by historians as the Bonn Republic, was a country in Central Europe that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the western portion of Germany was part of the Western bloc during the Cold War. It was created during the Allied occupation of Germany in 1949 after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its capital was the city of Bonn.

Toronto was an early bidder again in 1964 after the failed attempt for 1960 and failed to make the final round. [8]

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. Toronto is the anchor of an urban agglomeration, known as the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A global city, Toronto is a centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

1964 Summer Olympics bidding result [9]
CityCountryRound 1
Tokyo Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg  Japan 34
Detroit Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States 10
Vienna Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 9
Brussels Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium 5


Yoshinori Sakai running to the Olympic cauldron. TokyoOlympics1964Opening.jpg
Yoshinori Sakai running to the Olympic cauldron.
Marathoner Abebe Bikila Olympic runner Abebe Bikila (1968).jpg
Marathoner Abebe Bikila


The 1964 Summer Olympics featured 19 different sports encompassing 25 disciplines, and medals were awarded in 163 events. In the list below, the number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.

Note: In the Japan Olympic Committee report, sailing is listed as "yachting". [11]

Demonstration sports

Medal count

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

1Flag of the United States.svg  United States 36262890
2Flag of the Soviet Union (1955-1980).svg  Soviet Union 30313596
3Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg  Japan*165829
4Flag of the German Olympic Team (1960-1968).svg  United Team of Germany 10221850
5Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 1010727
6Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary 107522
7Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg  Poland 761023
8Flag of Australia.svg  Australia 621018
9Flag of Czechoslovakia.svg  Czechoslovakia 56314
10Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Great Britain 412218
Totals (10 nations)134127126387

Conventionally, countries are ranked by the number of gold medals they receive, followed then by the number of silver medals and, finally, bronze. [12]

Participating National Olympic Committees

Participants 1964 Summer Olympic games countries.png
Number of athletes per country 1964 Summer olympics team numbers.gif
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 withdrew before the competition), Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Northern Rhodesia, Senegal, and Tanzania (as Tanganyika).

Northern Rhodesia achieved full independence as Zambia on the same day as the closing ceremony. Athletes from Southern Rhodesia competed under the banner of Rhodesia; this was the last of three appearances at the Summer Olympics by a Rhodesian representation. Zimbabwe would later make its first appearance at the 1980 Summer Olympics.

Athletes from East Germany and West Germany competed together as the United Team of Germany, as they had done previously in 1956 and 1960.

Indonesia was banned from the 1964 Olympics, due to its refusal to allow Israeli and Taiwanese athletes visas at the 1962 Asian Games.

Participating National Olympic Committees


All dates are in Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
OCOpening ceremonyEvent competitions1Gold medal eventsCCClosing ceremony
Olympic Rings Icon.svg CeremoniesOCCCN/A
Athletics pictogram.svg Athletics 3456543636
Basketball pictogram.svg Basketball 11
Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing 1010
Canoeing pictogram.svg Canoeing 77
Cycling pictogram.svg Cycling 1111217
Diving pictogram.svg Diving 11114
Equestrian pictogram.svg Equestrian 2226
Fencing pictogram.svg Fencing 111111118
Field hockey pictogram.svg Field Hockey 11
Football pictogram.svg Football 11
Gymnastics pictogram.svg Gymnastics 225514
Judo pictogram.svg Judo 44
Modern pentathlon pictogram.svg Modern pentathlon 22
Rowing pictogram.svg Rowing 77
Sailing pictogram.svg Sailing 55
Shooting pictogram.svg Shooting 1111116
Swimming pictogram.svg Swimming 223322418
Volleyball pictogram.svg Volleyball 22
Water polo pictogram.svg Water polo 11
Weightlifting pictogram.svg Weightlifting 11111117
Wrestling pictogram.svg Wrestling 887
Daily medal events14317191212131791413272163
Cumulative total158254456688198107121134161163
Total events


Yoyogi National Gymnasium, designed by Kenzo Tange Yoyogi-National-First-Gymnasium-01.jpg
Yoyogi National Gymnasium, designed by Kenzo Tange
Nippon Budokan Nippon Budokan 2010.jpg
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, [14] 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. [15] [16] Total broadcast time of programs delivered via satellite was 5 hours 41 minutes in the United States, 12 hours 27 minutes in Europe, and 14 hours 18 minutes in Canada. Pictures were received via satellite in the United States, Canada, and 21 countries in Europe. [17]

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. [17]

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 nine days before the opening of the games, transporting passengers 515 kilometers (320 mi) in about four 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 eight 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. [18]


The Oxford Olympics Study established the outturn cost of the Tokyo 1964 Summer Olympics at US$282 million in 2015-dollars. [19] This includes sports-related costs only, that is, (i) operational costs incurred by the organizing committee for the purpose of staging the Games, e.g., expenditures for technology, transportation, workforce, administration, security, catering, ceremonies, and medical services, and (ii) direct capital costs incurred by the host city and country or private investors to build, e.g., the competition venues, the Olympic village, international broadcast center, and media and press center, which are required to host the Games. Indirect capital costs are not included, such as for road, rail, or airport infrastructure, or for hotel upgrades or other business investment incurred in preparation for the Games but not directly related to staging the Games. The cost for Tokyo 1964 compares with costs of USD 4.6 billion for Rio 2016, USD 40-44 billion for Beijing 2008 and USD 51 billion for Sochi 2014, the most expensive Olympics in history. Average cost for Summer Games since 1960 is USD 5.2 billion.


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. [20]

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. [17] The YS-11, a commercial turboprop plane developed in Japan, was used to transport the Olympic Flame within Japan. [21] 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. [20] In preparation for the games, 200,000 stray cats and dogs were rounded-up and euthanized. [22]

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. [22]

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%. [20]

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. [23]

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. [24] Tokyo will be the first Asian city to host the games twice.

Boycotting countries

Countries that boycotted the 1964 Summer Olympics (shown in red on map) 1964 Summer Olympics (Tokyo) boycotting countries (red).png
Countries that boycotted the 1964 Summer Olympics (shown in red on map)

North Korea withdrew its athletes from the 1964 Summer Olympics just before the Games were due to start, as the IOC were refusing to accept any athletes who had participated in the Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO) held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1963. China and Indonesia also chose not to attend the Tokyo Games due to GANEFO issues.

See also

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Works cited

Preceded by
Summer Olympic Games

XVIII Olympiad (1964)
Succeeded by
Mexico City