Jon D. Gaede |

Tokyo – For the athletes who compete, the Olympic Games always have a special meaning.

For the world looking in, these games were a contrast to Japan’s last summer Olympics in 1964. This year, delayed by the constraints of a world pandemic, Tokyo hosted the 2020 Olympic games, one year later.

Japanese Emperor Hirohito opened the 1964 games as he declared the hope and rebirth of the nation of Japan. It was their showcase to the world back then as they hosted 93 nations to compete on the world’s greatest athletic stage. South Africa was excluded, due to their apartheid system of racial separation. The initial worldwide broadcast in color was also a first in 1964.

After various allegations, changes in leadership, and aggressive, virus-related social remedies, the Japanese Olympic Committee and people of Japan hosted a successful Olympic Games. It was quite unfortunate that public attendance to Olympic events would ultimately not be permitted, however, the compelling stories and competitions were broadcast at the highest level ever.

Although the medal counts are certainly secondary to the focus and concerns of world health, the United States, China, Japan, Great Britain, and ROC (Russia), won the bulk of Olympic medals in Japan.  American athletes led the count with 113. Among the new sports added at Tokyo, were Karate, Sport Climbing, Surfing, Skateboarding, as well as the return of Baseball and Softball.

In summary, daily testing, masking, social distancing, and quarantine, became the norm for athletes, coaches, media, and organizers.

As a result of the pandemic, the Japanese people were not able to truly showcase their wonderful nation in the way they had planned. Regardless, the true kindness and positive spirit of the Japanese people continued to shine through.

Due in part to meticulous planning and determination, the Tokyo games were a success and many participants expressed a desire to return to the country so they can enjoy the natural beauty and hospitality of Japan in safer times.

Jon Gaede is a freelance photographer and photojournalist who covers sports events for the IE Voice and Black Voice News. All gallery photos were taken by Jon Gaede.

Header photo: Black and white 1964 Tokyo Olympics photo by Jon Gaede, Tokyo Olympics 2020 logo courtesy of Wikipedia.

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