The TV Olympics – Tokyo 1964

1964 Tokyo Olympics Logo

The Japanese Embassy have a free public exhibition about the Tokyo Olympics so I went down to have a look.

It’s a small, intimate show featuring photos, memories and souvenirs from British people who were there. The collection of cigarette packets with Olympic advertising was a bit of a shock – it shows how much the world has changed since then.

There were a couple of English-Japanese phrase books including one called Konnichi wa which, according to the caption card, ‘didn’t appear to have been proof read by native speakers’. The imagination boggles at the situations trusting users might have ended up in.

I also lingered a long time in front of the running vest worn by Sir Menzies Campbell who competed in the 1964 games. Funny how things turn out.

A good follow-up to this exhibition is the Royal Opera House Olympic Journey exhibition where they have torches and medals from earlier Olympics, including Tokyo 1964. It’s also free.

And if you want a feel for what Tokyo was like at the time, try Walk don’t Run, a Cary Grant film set against the background of the Tokyo Olympics. The scenery is fascinating; the plot isn’t. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Why are they called the TV Olympics? It was the first time they were broadcast in colour all over the world using a satellite relay system.

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