Olympic Marathon: A Centennial History of the Games' Most Storied Race

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

16
The Games of the XVIII Olympiad: Tokyo, 1964

The Olympic Games had first been awarded to Tokyo in 1940, but the Japanese subsequently declined the honor because of their war with China. The 1940 Games were never held, due in part to Japanese aggression. By 1964, however, the world was ready to let bygones be bygones, and the Games were scheduled on Asian soil for the first time ever. The Japanese were determined to host a splendid Games--their national pride demanded it--but pulling off such a task would require the virtual rebuilding of Tokyo, still not fully recovered from the firebombs of World War II.

The Japanese spared no expense in building highways, subways, monorails, hotels, and all the other facilities of a modern city. Nearly $3 billion was spent to modernize the city, and another $60 million was spent on the facilities for the Games.

Determined that the Games run smoothly, the Japanese hosted an Intemational Sports Week in Tokyo in 1963 as a sort of dress rehearsal. The dry-run was successful, but the Japanese did not stop planning. With the finishing touches being put on a revitalized city, a full scale rehearsal of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies was held a week before the Games were scheduled to open. Eight thousand high school students acted in the roles of athletes and officials and another 70,000 schoolchildren played the parts of spectators, filling the stands of the new National Stadium outside the gardens of the Meiji Shrine. Further rehearsals were held later in the week to ensure that everything was perfect. Only mother nature could interfere with the meticulous planning

-73-

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