Episode 342 – The Other Olympics

This week, how did the 1964 Paralympics end up in Japan? Who made it happen? And why does 1964 represent an important moment in the history of disability sports in Japan?


Frost, Dennis J. More than Medals: A History of the Paralympics and Disability Sports in Postwar Japan (forthcoming; late 2020)

Bulletin of the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center Paralympic Research Group Vol 1 (January, 2015). Available in pdf (Japanese and English) here.


Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko greet international Paralympic delegates. Courtesy of The Olympians blog.
The 1964 Paralympic Logo. Note the five rings, an allusion to the Olympic logo.
UK delegates during the opening ceremony. Much of the press coverage of the 1964 Paralympics focused on the “foreign” angle.
Australian athletes during the opening ceremony.
Drs. Nakamura Yutaka and Ludwig Guttmann. Courtesy of the IPC and Japan Sun Industries.

3 thoughts on “Episode 342 – The Other Olympics”

  1. I really appreciate thr effort you took making this episode. Good to see it getting some recognition.. My dad represented Australia in blind swimming in the 1970s (though not at the Paralympics). It was one of his proudest achievements and I still have his blazer from the event. I also have a disability but no sporting talent, just a history nerd and regular listener of 3 years

  2. Here’s a tie in to this episode that’s been kind of stuck in my mind since I first heard about it maybe a year or so back and that’s Igari Tomoka who’s an idol as a member of the group Kamen Joshi and what I think is a fairly interesting little story.

    Back in 2018 she was out when she got crushed under a billboard blown over by a strong wind gust. She survived but the incident left her a paraplegic. There’s a really interesting blog post from her soon after the incident where she’s pretty frank about how her new situation made her feel and her worries about her future as an idol. However the group’s management and her other group mates were incredibly supportive of her and two years later she’s still actively performing with them on stage while in a wheelchair. She’s also become an advocate for the disabled and para-sports and has expressed a desire in becoming a para-athlete once she graduates from the group.

    In fact Igari’s accident and the way she’s dealt with it played a large part in inspiring one of her groupmates, Sakura Yuki, to eventually graduate from Kamen Joshi and successfully enter the world of politics (under her real name, Hashimoto Yuki) where she’s currently serving as a member of the Shibuya Ward Assembly.

    Just an indicator, I suppose, of the way in which the actions of people and groups like Dr. Nakamura, those who advocated for para-sports and the athletes themselves that we might not otherwise give a second thought to can have a ripple effect long afterwards.

    1. Kamen Joshi have been pro-Trump, so I’m guessing he didn’t want to touch that can of worms.

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