Tokyo, 57 years later: How have the city and the Olympic Games changed?

Japan 2020

TOKYO, Calif. (KSEE) — Three consecutive Olympics have taken place in Asia, and the latest home of the games, Tokyo, was also the first for the continent in 1964.

The people of Tokyo say the city is very different today when compared to 57 years ago.

“What Japanese people wanted to do is we wanted to show that we are recovering from World War II and now we are moving forward,” said Mariko Hirata of the largest travel agency in Japan, the JTB Corporation.

Japan surrendered and World War II ended in 1945. 19 years later, in 1964, Tokyo hosted the Olympic Games for the first time.

“At that time, the infrastructure of the city was made. For example, the shinkansen, the bullet train, started in 1964.”

Japan sent 355 athletes to the Olympics and that bullet train was unveiled just nine days before the opening ceremony. Japanese athletes won 29 combined medals, placing third behind the United States and the Soviet Union.

“To the Japanese who remember 1964, hosting a second summer olympiad, that would be a big deal,” said Roy Tomizawa, author of the book “1964 – The Greatest Year in the History of Japan.” “I mean, they have such great memories of that time.”

Tokyo 2020 shares those memories. The five venues that are being used this summer were also used in 1964.

“We are trying to use the legacy and also to make new ones for the athletes,” Hirata says.

Japan had 355 athletes at the 1964 Olympics. It has 582 athletes at the Olympics this summer, making for the largest Olympic team in Japan’s history.

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