The Games of the XVIII Olympiad were held in Tokyo, Japan in 1964. These were the first Olympics to be held in Asia and celebrated Japan's progress and re-emergence on the world stage after the Second World War. About 5,000 athletes participated, representing 93 countries including the nation of Malaysia, which had formed the previous year by a union of Malaya, British North Borneo and Singapore. Something like an estimated $US 3 billion was spent to rebuild and modernize the city with improved infrastructure.
Yūji Koseki composed the theme song of the opening ceremony.
Yoshinori Sakai, lit the Olympic Flame, and was born in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day an atomic bomb was dropped on that city.
The Tokyo games were the first to be telecast live internationally with the use of communication satellites. 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%. For the first time South Africa was barred from taking part due to its apartheid system in sports and Indonesia, and North Korea were absent after they voluntarily withdrew their teams.
The 1964 Olympic Games debuted the first use of computers to keep results. 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. This was also the last Summer Olympics to use a cinder running track for athletic events, and the first to use fiberglass poles for pole vaulting.
US Sprinter Bob Hayes equaled the world record of 10 seconds flat in the 100 metres, but stunned the crowd with a sub-nine second, come-from-behind anchor leg to lead the U.S. to set a world record in the 4x100 meters.
Billy Mills, an American Indian borrowed shoes and won the 10,000m. American sponsors thought so little of his chances, they refused to give him shoes. He won by 10m, in 28:24, an Olympics record.
Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila was the first man to successfully defend the marathon title (1960 and 1964). This time less than six weeks after having his appendix removed. He won this time wearing shoes. Later, in 1968, after dropping out with an ankle injury, he met with a tragic auto accident which left his legs paralyzed.
After New Zealander, Peter Snell won the 800- and 1,500-m. runs his teammates broke into a dance during the closing parade.
British runner Ann Packer set a world record in becoming the surprise winner of the 800 m, having never run the distance at international level prior to the Games.
She broke the world record wearing the lightest-ever spikes adidas had ever produced. The shoes were made using 1mm kangaroo leather and weighed just 80g.
Australian, Dawn Fraser won gold in the 100m freestyle becoming the first swimmer to win a gold medal in the same event at three consecutive Olympic Games. She also set a world record with a time of 59.5 seconds that was not broken until 1972. Fraser’s appearance at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was later marred with controversy. Amongst a number of misdemeanors, the Australian Swimming Union ended her Olympic career when they suspended her for 10 years after it was discovered she stole an Olympic flag from a flagpole outside Emperor Hirohito’s imperial palace. She was arrested but released without charge. The Emperor subsequently gave her the flag as a souvenir. Another Australian, Bob Windle, a relative unknown, won the 1500m swimming event and set an Olympic record time of 17min 1.7seconds.
Americans won so many track and field titles that the Japanese played an abbreviated version of the "Star-Spangled Banner." One fan, an MGM musician, did not like that and, sitting below the torch, finished the anthem on his trumpet.
Tamara Press again won the shot put and added the discus title; her sister Irina won the pentathlon, a new event for women. The Soviet defending discus champion was so distressed to finish 5th that, in the tradition of female Olympians, she had her hair cut off.
This was the last time women could compete without a "sex test." Sprinter Ewa Klobukowska of Poland, 3rd in the 100-m., was later found to have an irregular chromosome count and failed the "sex test" before the European Cup meet.
Joe Frazier, future heavyweight champion of the world, won a gold medal for the USA in heavyweight boxing after being put in as a late replacement .