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 was an enormous success.
Japanese athletes themselves put on a remarkable Olympic show, receiving 29 medals – 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 in straight sets over the formidable and tenacious USSR side. Many outstanding international athletes also became popular in Japan, including men's marathon two time consecutive gold medalist Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia, and Czechoslovakia's Vera Caslavska, who captured the hearts of many fans with her marvelous gymnastics performance.
The 1964 Games not only served as a driving force of urban development and economic growth, its role in promoting sports in Japan must not be overlooked. Sports established itself as an integral part of the Japanese people's lives; the popularity of soccer set off its national league, and sports clubs began to emerge throughout the country.