Development of sport in Japan through the 1964 Games

In the wake of Tokyo 1964, the popularity of the Olympic Games sparked the opening of sports clubs and training clinics across the country, playing an important role in establishing sport as an integral part of Japanese people’s lives.

NurPhoto / Getty Images | Japanese children meet Satoko Mabuchi, Olympic Games Beijing 2008 softball champion, during a project by the sports fields in Japan to support the mental recovery of children who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

But Tokyo 1964’s legacy actually began in 1961. Having been awarded the Games in 1959, the Japanese government introduced “The Sports Promotion Act”. This laid out measures for promoting sport at local and national levels through sporting leaders and improving the maintenance of facilities. It has formed a foundation for promoting sport in Japan ever since.

Preparations for Tokyo 1964 also led to the foundation of the Japan Junior Sport Clubs Association (JJSA) in 1962 to create opportunities for children to play sport in their local communities. According to statistics reported in 2018, the JJSA had 650,000 youngsters involved in sport in 31,000 clubs across the country.

A year after Tokyo 1964, the National Olympics Memorial Youth Centre was founded on the site of the former Olympic Village as a space to educate and train young people. As of 2020, it represents one of three pillars of the National Institution for Youth Education. In October 2019, Tokyo 2020 and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government held the first training sessions for Games volunteers (Field Cast) and city volunteers (City Cast) at the centre.

Japan’s football success at Tokyo 1964 – the team beat Argentina 3-2 in the group stage and went on to reach the quarter finals – also contributed greatly to popularising the sport in the country. It led directly to the creation of the Japan Soccer League in 1965.

back to top