From “THE GAMES OF THE XVIII OLYMPIAD TOKYO 1964: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee.”

All we see is the pomp and circumstance. But waiting for the start of the opening ceremony of an Olympics Games can be a dull and tiring affair.

As 400-meter individual medley swimmer, Dick Roth, wrote, after getting bussed to a large staging area on a beautiful Autumn day on October 10, 1964, all they did was wait. “We milled around for hours in our new uniforms, awaiting our turn to march in, not daring to sit down in our white pants or skirts. That part really wasn’t fun.”

The American, Roth, won gold in his event, so the wait was worth it. But if an Olympian’s event is in the day’s following the opening ceremony, they are often encouraged not to participate in the team march into the stadium. That’s what American diver, Frank Gorman, was advised.

“The diving events began the day after,” the silver medalist in the 3-meter springboard told me. “So we were cautioned by our coaches to not go. We stayed in the Village dormitories. By that time, we were so pleased that the coaches advised us to stay. You had to go five hours in advance and stand outside waiting for things to get organized. They spent 8 or 12 hours participating in the ceremonies. We would have been worn out.”

And yet, for many Olympians, it’s an experience of a life time. Wrote Roth, “It was overwhelming really – bright blue sky, the entire stadium filled with 75,000 applauding, cheering people, all of us athletes standing in formation on the field. The track was ringed with Japanese, dancing in colorful costumes. The Emperor was standing and waving. Flags and more flags. Did you ever wonder what’s going through an athlete’s mind during the Opening Ceremonies? In my case, nothing besides a bucketful of awe!”


From “THE GAMES OF THE XVIII OLYMPIAD TOKYO 1964: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee.”

Arguably, the best food in Asia is Japan. High, medium or low-end, Japan eats are hard to beat. Even American fast food in Japan tastes better than the original in the US.

In 1964, arguably the best food in Japan was in Yoyogi. Apparently, the dining halls of the Olympic Village were all the rage. Where else could you sample the best cuisines of the globe in one place.

The main dining hall was divided into two sections – Fuji and Sakura dining halls – which could feed up to 1,000 people at a time. Each dining hall was subdivided into six rooms with a capacity of 108 people each, so considering the two halls, there were 12 equally sized dining areas. The various country delegations were divided into 21 groups depending on common dietary requirements or custom, with one dining room designated for each of those groups.

Since these dining rooms had specific hours, one dining hall, known as International Dining Room, was always open for business. Actually, as the Japan Olympic Committee charged each country’s Olympic committee only $6 a day for room and board, this would have been a lousy business. Instead, it was considered a memorable part of the Olympian experience in Tokyo.

For the weightlifters and wrestlers who needed some 7 to 8,000 calories a day, it was like being a kid in a candy store. For those runners and swimmers who had to stay slim and trim, the dining halls were a blessing and a curse.

Canadian field hockey center forward, Victor Warren, told me the food in Tokyo was so good, the athletes dubbed these games The Eating Olympics. “The food was excellent! For a bunch of young bachelors who are presented with a food fest, you can go crazy. You needed to be disciplined or you’d blow up like a blimp!”

Said Hermann Rusch, food consultant to the US Olympic team, to the Associated Press, “Never before have I seen anything like this setup. The Japanese are terribly efficient and wonderful cooks.”

From the book, “XVIII Olympiad Tokyo 1964_Asahi Shimbun”

I love this picture of Olympian, Laszlo Hammerl, the Hungarian who won a gold and bronze medals in the 1964 Summer Games. It is a picture of intense concentration – and he needed every ounce of it to win gold in the 50-meter rifle prone competition.

Hammerl’s competition from America was strong. Lones Wigger set a world record of 597 points, while Tommy Pool came close with a score of 596. But Hammerl, later in the day tied Wigger on points at 597, and one gold on a technical tie breaker related to the last 10 shots of the 60 shots required to be taken in a 75-minute limit.

Hammerl would also win bronze in the 50-meter rifle three positions in Tokyo, as well as silver in the 50-meter rifle prone in Mexico City in 1968.

I won’t (now) get into the cost overruns and delays plaguing the Rio Olympic Games, which will take place almost a year from now (August 6-20). Nor will I go into the short- and long-term value to Brazilians of staging their second mega-sporting event (World Cup in 2014).

Here is a recently released video showing current progress and future vision of Parque Olímpico in Jacarepaguá, the western part of Rio de Janero, your host for the 2016 Summer Games.


The sun rises every morning. And there are cost overruns at every Olympics.

Yes, people are shocked at the JPYY252 billion (USD2 billion) budget estimate declared upon presentation of the blueprint of the new National Stadium. This is a 55% increase over an earlier estimate.

But the truth is, national olympic committees know they need to provide lower overall cost estimates to win a bid, with the unspoken understanding that costs will be higher, often significantly. In the case of the new national stadium, dubbed somewhat unceremoniously as the “bicycle helmet”, the roof’s arches are of such a complicated design that its construction alone accounts for JPY76.5 billion (USD620 million) or 30% of the entire budget.

What’s even more interesting, according to this Japan Times article, is that the Japan Sports Council, an advisory panel within the Education Ministry is the owner of the stadium construction project, and not necessarily in synch with leaders of that Ministry.

Then again, politics as usual.