Japan's sporting diplomacy: The 1964 Tokyo olympiad

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At a time when Japanese foreign policy was constrained by the legacies of war and the exigencies of the Cold War, hosting the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was conceived as an alternative means of engagement with the international community. The sporting diplomacy of the Tokyo Olympics centered around elevating Japan's international position by engaging the people of the world on a grassroots level. The pervasive notion that sports are separate from politics helped smooth Japan's return to the international community, while concerns about the image presented to foreign audiences motivated efforts to internationalize Japan, in terms of both the physical infrastructure of the capital and attitudes of the people. The development of infrastructure for the Games - including new buildings, roads, and trains, and even a satellite to facilitate live international broadcast-all contributed to making Japan more "international." The event was a great success for Japan, both athletically and diplomatically, and sports diplomacy became a lasting component of Japan's foreign policy, still used today to promote international connections and develop greater knowledge and understanding of Japan. At the same time, this build-up of soft power also cleared the way for the development of greater hard power by Japan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-220
Number of pages18
JournalInternational History Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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