As Japan prepares for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is important to look back at the extraordinary story of the last time Japan hosted the Summer Games in 1964. Those Games were historic, marking the first time a non-Western country hosted the Olympics and symbolizing Japan remarkable rebirth after the war’s destruction and humiliation of defeat into a peaceful, economically prosperous, democratic nation.
Please join us for a unique look at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics featuring Roy Tomizawa, author of a newly published book, 1964: The Greatest Year in the History of Japan, which expertly interweaves the geopolitical ferment of that era with the individual stories of the athletes from around the world who participated in and whose lives were shaped by the Games. Roy, who is visiting the Bay Area from Japan, will be joined by two Northern Californian Olympians who participated in the 1964 Games: Billy Mills, the underdog gold medal runner who went on to become a well-known activist for Native Americans, and Andy Toro, the Hungarian canoeist who made headlines when he defected to the West during the Games.
Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about an historic event and hear amusing and moving anecdotes from those who lived the experience which changed their lives. Whether you go to Tokyo to experience the 2020 Games in person or watch them at home, this program will enrich your understanding and appreciation for the Games and Japan’s role in the world.
Roy’s book can be purchased at the event or here.
Date: Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Three Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, California
Roy Tomizawa celebrated his first birthday on the opening day of the 1964 Olympics. His father worked with the NBC News crew that broadcast those games to homes in the United States. As far back as he can remember, Roy has been a fan of the Olympics. A year after Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics, Roy went searching for an English-language book that chronicled the 1964 Olympic, but couldn’t find one. A former print journalist, he decided to write that book. After 4 years of research and interviews of over 75 Olympians from the ’64 Games, he published the book, “1964: The Greatest Year in the History of Japan – How the Tokyo Olympics Symbolized Japan’s Miraculous Rise from the Ashes.” Roy is a leadership and talent development consultant from New York with over 30-years’ experience in Asia, working for such companies as MetLife, Nikko Asset Management, Microsoft, DBS Bank, Morgan Stanley and Mercer Human Resource Consulting.
Billy Mills shocked the world and came from behind to win the 10,000-meter track finals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. At the time, he set a world record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds and is still the only American to ever win a gold medal in the 10k event. Mills, an Oglala Lakota (Sioux), is a native of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and went on run at the University of Kansas. His story was the inspiration for the movie Running Brave, which starred Robbie Benson and chronicles his life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the many obstacles he overcame to become an Olympic Champion. In Lakota culture, someone who achieves great success has a ‘giveaway’ to thank the support system of family and friends who helped him achieve his goal. As part of his effort to give back to his community, Billy helped found Running Strong for American Indian Youth and became the organization’s National Spokesperson. Today Billy travels over 300 days every year. He visits American Indian communities throughout the U.S. and speaks to youth about healthy lifestyles and taking pride in their heritage.
Andras (Andy) Toro is a 4-time Olympian in canoeing, winning a bronze medal in the Canadian Double (C2) 1,000 meter event at the 1960 Rome Olympics, representing Hungary for two Olympics, and America for two. He was appointed coach for the US Canoeing Olympic Team in preparation of the Moscow Olympics in 1980. As an administrator Toro was an elected member of the US Olympic Committee’s Board of Directors from 1978 to 1984. He helped establish the “Athletes Board for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1992, and served on the USOC’s executive committee from 1984 to 1988 among many other roles. Toro made the headlines in 1964 when he defected from his home country of Hungary to the United States, in the midst of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He has written about this time in his soon-to-be-published book, “My Story, An Olympic Defector’s Chronicle.” This retired naval architect still designs and builds canoes, kayaks, sur skis and stand up paddle boards, and competes in the Masters category for outrigger canoeing.