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Memories From Tokyo’s 1964 Olympics Will Live On In Venues Reused For 2020 Games

By Todd Kortemeier | Dec. 11, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)


The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 run July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, and while they may be nearly 20 months away there’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Each Tuesday leading up to the Games, TeamUSA.org will present a nugget you should read about – from athletes to watch to storylines to follow to Japanese culture and landmarks – as part of “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday.” Follow along on social media with the hashtag #Tokyo2020Tuesday.


Even if sustainability was not a main tenet of Olympic Agenda 2020, Japan likely still would have opted to reuse some venues from the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964.

After all, we’re talking about a nation that boasts perfectly preserved temples and castles of well over 1,000 years old. Fifty-six years qualifies as brand new by that standard.

Three of the seven venues in the Tokyo 2020 Heritage Zone – the portion of the Olympic and Paralympic grounds closest to the Tokyo city center – will be reused from the 1964 Games for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. A fourth, the New National Stadium, is being rebuilt on the same site as the 1964 National Stadium.

The Yoyogi National Gymnasium and Nippon Budokan were built specifically for the 1964 Games, and opened that year. The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium opened in 1954 and was built originally to host the world wrestling championships. Yoyogi hosted basketball, swimming and diving in 1964, and will host Olympic handball, Para-badminton and wheelchair rugby in 2020. Budokan hosted judo, and will host that again for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games along with Olympic karate. The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium originally hosted gymnastics, and will play host to Olympic and Paralympic table tennis in 2020.

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Besides being structurally sound and suitable to host a modern Games, the venues are noted for their classic architecture that will fit right in alongside the brand new venues. The Yoyogi National Gymnasium in particular was ahead of its time when it opened. The gym features a concrete roof suspended by steel cables, the largest suspended roof in the world when completed.

The Budokan is perhaps better known as a concert venue, ever since the Beatles played the first rock concert there in 1966. Numerous bands have recorded live albums there, including Cheap Trick, Bob Dylan and Ozzy Osbourne. 

The Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium has hosted numerous international competitions since 1964, but is known to the citizens of Tokyo as a public gym for anyone to use. For just a few hundred yen, anyone can use the gym’s pool and other fitness facilities.

The 1964 Games remain a proud moment in history for the Japanese people. Now with the reusing of these venues, those who don’t remember those first Games will have new memories of these historic places.

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

A view of the Yoyogi National Stadium on Sept. 12, 2013, which will host events during the Tokyo 2020 Games in Tokyo.