The Olympic Games is a quadrennial international multi-sport event celebrated as a global sports festival by people all over the world. The Olympic Games are held in both the summer and winter, with the ultimate goal of cultivating people and world peace through sports. The Games of the XXIX Olympiad held in Beijing in 2008 saw athletes from 204 countries and regions participate. London hosted the 2012 Olympics, commemorating the 30th Olympic Games.
The ancient Olympic Games
The roots of today’s Olympic Games date back to the ancient Olympic Games, held 2,800 years ago. Also known as the "Olympiad," the event took place in the Olympia region of ancient Greece. There are various opinions regarding its origins. It is said that the event was an athletic and artistic festival dedicated to the worship of the gods. But the ancient Olympic Games were hindered by numerous conflicts and finally came to an end in 393 AD.
The modern Olympic Games
Then 1,500 years later in 1892, a French educator named Baron Pierre de Coubertin began the Olympic revival movement. Baron de Coubertin's idea to reinstate the Olympic Games was presented to the audience at the international congress in Paris, 1894, and his proposal was unanimously approved. Two years later the unforgettable first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece, the homeland of the ancient Olympic Games.
The five rings — the well-known symbol of the Olympic Games — were also created by Baron de Coubertin, to express the solidarity of the world's five continents.
Olympic Games in Japan
Japanese educator, Jigoro Kano is considered the "father of the Olympic Movement" in Japan. He was the headmaster of the Tokyo Higher Normal School (currently known as Tsukuba University) and made great efforts to promote judo. In 1909, Kano became the first IOC member to serve from Asia. Following this, he established the Japan Sports Association in preparation for Japan's eventual participation in the Olympic Games. In 1911, he organised an Olympic qualifying competition, from which short distance runner Yahiko Mishima and marathoner Shiso Kanaguri qualified for the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm — the first Olympic Games in which Japanese athletes participated.
The notion of Olympism Baron de Coubertin advocated was the elevation of mind and soul, overcoming differences between nationalities and cultures while embracing friendship, a sense of solidarity and fair play. This would ultimately contribute to world peace and betterment — an ideal that has been passed down undiminished to this day. As a result, he is revered as the "Father of the Olympics." In addition to the Olympic themes of "sports" and "culture," another focus today is "environment." The Olympic Games provide an opportunity for the international community to direct its attention to global environmental issues.
The Olympic Movement
The Olympic Movement is led by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), guided by the philosophy of Olympism, which strives to promote world peace and the betterment of society. The Olympic Movement is embraced all over the world, and the Olympic Charter has chosen the intersecting five-ring mark as its symbol.
The IOC is fully responsible for the advancement of Olympism in accordance with the Olympic Charter. The IOC recognises 205 countries and regions and hosts the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
The Olympic Movement is advanced by various people and organisations. The National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the International Federations (IFs) are also members of the Olympic Movement. The NOCs send their national delegations to the Olympic Games. The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) is the NOC in Japan. The IFs are the international sports organisations that govern each specific sport, and they retain full authority over the operation of their respective competitions during the Games.
Additionally, the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and the National Olympic Academy (NOA) both take charge of educational and promotional activities founded on Olympism.
Activities of the Olympic Movement
Some of the main activities the Olympic Movement are involved in are anti-doping, women's participation and economic support. Doping — the use of muscle-enhancing agents and other banned substances to improve performance — is not only illegal but can have serious detrimental effects on the body. As such, the IOC took on an indispensable role in establishing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to fight doping in sports. Women were not allowed to compete in the ancient Olympic Games, and it was not until the inaugural modern Olympic Games in Athens that they were welcomed as participants. As a result of the women's movement, as well as the efforts of the IOC's working group, many female athletes now take part in the Games. Through the aid programme, "Solidarity," the IOC plays a major role in providing financial support to athletes and coaches living in economically-deprived societies. Funds are allocated for scholarships, construction of sports facilities and other activities aimed at improving expertise and performance for all.
Another core activity of the Olympic Movement is the Paralympic Games — the pinnacle of sporting events for athletes with disabilities. The Paralympic Games are hosted immediately after the Olympic Games, and performance levels are increasing at a rapid pace.
The Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games
On October 10, 1964, the Games of the XVIII Olympiad began with the Opening Ceremony at Kasumigaoka National Stadium. 5,133 athletes from 93 nations and regions demonstrated their exceptional abilities in 163 events across 20 sporting competitions. It was the first ever Olympic Games held in Asia and an enormous success. In conjunction with this momentous event, Tokyo experienced dramatic developments in its post-war infrastructure, including the construction of the Metropolitan Expressway and the Tokaido Shinkansen railway ("the bullet train"). This type of major progress in the capital served as a stepping stone for an era of rapid economic growth in Japan, demonstrating its miraculous restoration to the world.
Athletes that inspired Japan
Japanese athletes put on a remarkable Olympic show, receiving 29 medals including 16 gold, 5 silver and 8 bronze. Among the most memorable moments was the Japanese women's volleyball team's historic gold medal-winning match over a formidable and tenacious USSR side. Many outstanding international athletes gained popularity in Japan. These included Ethiopia’s two-time men's marathon gold medallist Abebe Bikila, and Czechoslovakia's Vera Caslavska, who captured the hearts of fans with her marvellous gymnastics performance.
Achievements of the 1964 Games
The 1964 Games not only served as a driving force of urban development and economic growth, its role in promoting sport in Japan must not be overlooked. Sport became an integral part of Japanese people's lives, with the popularity of football leading to the creation of the national league, and sport clubs emerging across the country.