Japan's resilience is again on display as it attempts to stage the 2020 Tokyo Olympics despite a pandemic that has ravaged the country. The challenge is different, and this time there is widespread public opposition that has divided the country over the health hazards with nagging questions about who benefits from staging the Games.
Roy Tomizawa described the '64 Olympics in a book and called them the "Inclusion Games" in a letter to The Associated Press.
He called this attempt the "Exclusion Games," but he offered some hope.
Tomizawa stated that the Games were proceeding despite significant risk, regardless of whether you agree with the Japanese government. He said that these Games could also be transformed into "Inclusion Games."
He added, "With a high level of difficulty."
"Organizing the Olympics and Paralympics in this epidemic is like Simone Biles performing a Yurchenko Double Pike, which is a vault so difficult that no other female gymnast wants it to be done. Biles can. Tomizawa suggested that Japan might be able to.
Tomizawa's book is titled: " 1964 -- The Greatest Year in the History of Japan: How the Tokyo Olympics Symbolized Japan's Miraculous Rise from the Ashes. " It came out last year, just months before the postponed Olympics were to open.
Tomizawa talks in her book about the huge effort required to be available in '64
"Police took pickpockets from the streets and made sure that bars in Tokyo complied with instructions to close early. ... In Japan, every person, child, and woman was getting ready for the world, believing that it was their civic duty ensure that all foreigners arriving in their country were provided with assistance and necessities.
It was also the year Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali by winning the heavyweight title. This was the year that Roy Emerson from Australia and Maria Bueno from Brazil won the Wimbledon titles. It was also the year when Arnold Palmer claimed his fourth Masters and final Masters. And it was the year when the Beatles flew Pan Am from London to perform their first concert in America.
It was in Tokyo that Yoshinori Sakai, who was born in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, was able to ignite the flames in the national stadium and open the 18th Olympic Games.
Tomizawa was born in New York. His father, Tom, a second generation Japanese-American, was an editor at NBC. He worked as an editor for the TV network NBC during the Olympics in Tokyo. This event was the first to be broadcast internationally via communication satellites.
Tomizawa was curious about the 1964 Games and his family connection. He couldn't find one so he created his own.
Tomizawa, a Japanese journalist who has been working in Japan for over 20 years, interviewed 70 Olympians representing 16 countries. Some of the Olympians were well-known at the time, including Dawn Fraser, an Australian swimmer, and Billy Mills (American 10,000-meter gold medallist).
Others made history, such as the marriage of two Bulgarian teammates, Nikolai Prodanov, and Diana Yorgova in Tokyo during Olympics. It was described as the first Olympic wedding. The ceremony featured a Shinto priest and sake, traditional Bulgarian dances and an interpreter who explained what was happening.
He stated that his favorite interview was with Jerry Shipp (a shooting guard on the American basketball team that won the gold medal) coached by Hank Iba. The conversation lasted several hours, with Shipp sharing his difficult childhood in Oklahoma's orphanage.
Shipp was the American's top scorer ahead of Bill Bradley, who was part of a team that also featured Larry Brown and Walt Hazzard. Tomizawa interviewed Shipp as well as Mel Counts, Jeff Mullins, and Luke Jackson.
Tomizawa stated that "I believe the Olympians tell a more complete story about the Games and their reactions to Japan," Tomizawa added. "Some of them had visited Japan in the '50s or '60s. Everyone was shocked and surprised when they arrived in Japan, thinking it would be a backward country.