1964 Summer Olympics

Games of the XVIII Olympiad
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
<  Rome 1960 Mexico City 1968  >
<  Innsbruck 1964 Grenoble 1968  >

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 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.[4] 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 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.

The 1964 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 Games thereafter.

The Olympic Games of 2020 will be held in Tokyo again.

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.


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
Wrestling ● ● ● ●
● ● ● ●
● ● ● ●
● ● ● ●
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 States36262890
2 Soviet Union30313596
3 Japan (host nation)165829
4 United Team of Germany10221850
5 Italy1010727
6 Hungary107522
7 Poland761023
8 Australia621018
9 Czechoslovakia56314
10 Great Britain412218

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). It was the last of three appearances at the Summer Olympics by a Rhodesian representation; athletes from Southern Rhodesia competed under the banner of Rhodesia. Zimbabwe would make its first appearance at the 1980 Summer Olympics. Athletes from East Germany and West Germany competed together as the United Team of Germany from 1956 to 1964. Indonesia was banned for this Olympic Games, due to its refusal to allow Israeli and Taiwanese athletes visas at the 1962 Asian Games.

Participating National Olympic Committees


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,[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 Canada, and 14 hours 18 minutes in Europe. 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 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.[18]


The Oxford Olympics Study established the outturn cost of the Tokyo 1964 Summer Olympics at USD 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 and USD 15 billion for London 2012, the latter being the most costly Summer Olympics to date. 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]

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.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

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.[23]

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.[24]

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

Boycotting countries

Main article: GANEFO

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.
  3. "Paralympic Results & Historical Records for RSA". International Paralympic Committee.
  4. "The Miami News - Google News Archive Search". The Miami News. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  5. Griggs, Lee (October 28, 1963). "A very dry run in Tokyo". Sports Illustrated: 64.
  6. "IOC Vote History". Aleksandr Vernik. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  7. "Toronto has made 5 attempts to host the Olympics. Could the sixth be the winner?". thestar.com. July 24, 2015.
  8. "Past Olympic host city election results". GamesBids. Archived from the original on March 17, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  9. Varian, Heidi (2013). The Way of Taiko: 2nd Edition. Stone Bridge Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 1611720125.
  10. 1 2 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.
  12. Grasso, John; Mallon, Bill; Heijmans, Jeroen (2015). "Chinese Taipei (aka Taiwan, Formosa, Republic of China) (TPE)". Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement (5th ed.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-4422-4860-1.
  13. Complete official IOC report. Volume 2 part 1 (PDF). Retrieved 17 October 2012. Fighi Hassan, Suliman - LIBYA - Absent
  14. "For Gold, Silver & Bronze". TIME magazine. October 16, 1964. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  15. 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.
  16. "Significant Achievements in Space Communications and Navigation, 1958–1964" (PDF). NASA-SP-93. NASA. 1966. pp. 30–32. Retrieved October 31, 2009.
  17. 1 2 3 Organizing Committee 1964, pp. 381–400
  18. Organizing Committee 1964, pp. 47–49
  19. Flyvbjerg, Bent; Stewart, Allison; Budzier, Alexander (2016). The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games. Oxford: Saïd Business School Working Papers (Oxford: University of Oxford). pp. 9–13.
  20. 1 2 3 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.
  21. Jessamyn R. Abel, "Japan's Sporting Diplomacy: The 1964 Tokyo Olympiad," international History Review (2012) 24#2 pp 203-220.
  22. Organizing Committee 1964, pp. 245–269
  23. 1 2 Whiting, Robert, "Negative impact of 1964 Olympics profound", Japan Times, 24 October 2014, p. 14
  24. Whiting, Robert, "Negative impact of 1964 Olympics profound", The Japan Times, 25 October 2014, p. 14
  25. "Japan's Capital Tokyo to host 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games". Retrieved 8 September 2013.

Works cited

External links

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Preceded by
Summer Olympic Games

XVIII Olympiad (1964)
Succeeded by
Mexico City
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