Yoshinori Sakai, who served as the final torch runner in the relay for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, died of a cerebral hemorrhage early Wednesday morning at a hospital in Tokyo, his former employer said. He was 69.
Sakai was born in the city of Miyoshi, about 60 km northeast of Hiroshima, on Aug. 6, 1945 — the same day that it was reduced to rubble by an atomic bomb. He was selected as the final runner in the torch relay for an event seen as a symbol of the nation’s postwar reconstruction and commitment to peace. He was a freshman student at Waseda University at the time.
An athlete himself, Sakai went on to win a silver medal in the 400-meter heat and a gold medal in a 1,600-meter relay at the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok. After graduating from university, he joined Fuji Television Network Inc. in 1968, carving out a career as a journalist covering news and sports.