Balloon releases are getting a bum rap these days – balloon waste dotting the landscape, creating potential harm to wildlife and the environment. But when the balloon release premiered at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, onlookers, Olympian and spectator alike, were blown away.
Primary school children marched in with a drum band, accompanying the Mayor of Rome, who handed the commemorative Olympic Flag to the Governor of Tokyo. In the stands were hundreds of high school students, each of whom held the strings to 40 balloons, at the ready. When the Olympic flag was exchanged, canons boomed in salute, and the students cut the cords sending 12,000 helium-filled balloons shooting into the beautiful cloudless sky.
Nearly 49 years later, Tokyo started the 100-day countdown to the announcement of the 2020 Olympic bid winners with a balloon release at Tokyo Tower.