1964 Japanese Olympians offer encouragement for Tokyo 2020 competitors


Former Japanese athletes spoke of their hopes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Friday the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 Olympics in which they competed in the Japanese capital.

“In 1964, Japan showed the world that it had recovered (from World War II),” gymnast and Japan’s 1964 delegation captain Takashi Ono said.

Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020, the 83-year-old added, “I hope we can show Japan’s fantastic points, share the greatness of sport and become a society in which children can be happy.”

Another gymnast Takuji Hayata, who won the rings gold medal and turned 74 on Friday, said, “The athletes will make their best efforts in the competition. Businesses can show once again the excellence of the Japanese.

“I also want the whole nation to care more about sports culture.”

The 1964 Games were a symbol of Japan’s recovery from World War II. Japan won 16 gold medals and finished third in the medal standings.

Wrestling gold medalist Yoshikatsu Yoshida, 72, said, “(The Olympics) will be held at home so naturally I want to see Japanese do well. If they don’t then there won’t be much excitement.

“In order for that to happen, athletes and coaches have to be properly nurtured starting right now. Athletes have been presented with a goal and I want them to keep training relentlessly.”

Saburo Kawabuchi, honorary president of the Japan Football Association and member of the Japan squad in ’64, said, “I want the (soccer team) to get the gold medal and I want people to have expectations for our competitiveness in soccer like they had for women’s volleyball back then (when Japan won the gold in 1964).”

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