In 1964, the world's best athletes met on Asian soil for the first time. After an "embargo" due to their role in the second world war, the Japanese hosting of the Olympics represented a return to international events.
Time and Place: Tokio (Japan); 10 – 24 October 1964
Other candidates: Detroit, Vienna and Brussels
Participation: 93 countries, 5151 athletes
Number of sports: 19 sports, 163 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: 18
Fire lit by: Yoshinoro Sakai (student born on the day of the explosion of the Hiroshima atom bomb, 6 August 1945)
Games opened by: Emperor Hirohito
Olyimpic oath: Takashi Ono (gymnast)
Trivia from the Tokio 1964 Summer Olympic Games
The Games were framed by impeccable sports facilities which represented a massive investment for the organizing nation. The opening ceremony presented 5,100 athletes from 93 countries under the watchful eye of the Emperor. The Republic of South Africa was missing from the competition and was only allowed to return in 1992. The Olympic fire was lit by Yoshinoro Sakai, a student who was born near Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, the day of the nuclear bombing of the Japanese city. White doves of peace at the opening ceremony called to a lasting peace. Nevertheless, the Japanese Olympics did not pass without a great rivalry of the two global superpowers who turned on the heat in their sports cold war. This time it was the Americans who were better, taking six more gold medals than the Soviet Union in the land of the rising sun.
As before, it was the gymnasts and swimmers who collected the most precious metal. The role of the best among the best was this time assumed by American swimmer Don Schollander with two wins in individual races (100 and 400 meters freestyle) and two wins in relay races. Three Olympic medals apiece were won by Vera Časlavska, Jukio Endo, Sharon Stouder and Stephen Clark. The incredible Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila again won Olympic gold. This time, he ran the 42 km and 195 m wearing trainers.
Judo was a new addition to the Olympics and the tournament was most interesting. The introduction of the sport was most celebrated by the Japanese who won gold in all medals except in the "royal" category. In the "royal" category, the win was taken from Japanese competitor Kaminaga by Dutchman Antonius Geesink. Voleyball was another new addition to the Olympics.
The Japanese Olympics marked the final chapter in the incredible Olympic story of Ukranian gymnast Larisa Latinina. In her career, she won an incredible and unbeaten 18 Olympic medals, 9 of which were gold.
Slovenians and the 1964 Summer Olympics
The competition of the best athletes of the world in the land of the rising sun was of historical importance for the 18-strong Slovenian contingent with gymnast Miroslav Cerar winning a medal as the first Slovenian competitor since the unforgettable age of Leon Štukelj. Cerar, whose remarkable routines earned him the nickname of the "pommel horse romantic", won a gold medal in the pommel horse. The jurist from Ljubljana supplemented his success with a bronze in the high bar. Cerar's rightful place among the best in the field in gymnastics was underlined by a sixth place in the parallel bars and seventh in the all-around competition. Rowers also came very close to a medal in Japan with the eight reaching fourth place.
The only female Slovenian representative in Japan achieved good results as well. Track and field athlete Draga Stamejčič won fifth place in the pentathlon and seventh in the 80 m hurdles. Another notable achievement was the tenth place of Franc Červan in the 10 km run.