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Opening and Closing Ceremonies of Tokyo 1964 Paralympic Games

Under the banner of ‘The World United in One’, Tokyo 1964 opened under
the watchful eyes of the Crown Prince and Princess Michiko, the
Japanese Minister of Welfare, the Governor of Tokyo and the founding
father of the Paralympic Movement, Sir Ludwig Guttmann. The gathered
dignitaries watched the athletes’ parade, lead into the Oda Field
within the Olympic Village by Japanese Marching Girls. The youngsters
carried drums on which they sounded-out a beat for the leaders of the
procession. Charlie Atkinson, accompanied by a British ex-guardsmen and
two Japanese athletes, marched whilst carrying the banner of the Stoke
Mandeville Games. Hundreds of people watched as speeches were delivered
by the Crown Prince and other representatives. Guttmann made a gesture
of the gratitude of the Paralympic Movement by presenting medals to the
Crown Prince, the Minister of Welfare, the Governor of Tokyo and Mr.
Kasai, Chairperson of the Organising Committee. In his speech, Guttmann
said “I hope most sincerely that the 1964 International Stoke
Mandeville Games […] will go down in history as another milestone in
the development of sport for the disabled and one of humanity’s finest
achievements.” The oath was taken by a Japanese athlete who pledged his
commitment to the three ideals of the Games - friendship, unity and
sportsmanship. Marking the climax of the Opening Ceremony, hundreds of
doves were released into the autumn sky to symbolise peace and the
freedom and beauty of movement. Finally, the teams were greeted and
inspected by the Crown Prince and Princess accompanied by Guttmann and
Mr. Kasai, before members of the national Self Defence Force performed
a colourful display of fencing. Holding up a mirror to the past The
Closing Ceremony of Tokyo 1964 was held in the great indoor gymnasium,
again under the patronage of the Crown Prince and Princess. The venue
was packed with a capacity crowd of 5,000, with many having to stand
just to catch a glimpse of the ceremony. The athletes and teams,
dressed in their official uniforms, were escorted by the same Japanese
Defence Force, this time bearing the national flag of each country. The
Crown Princess presented a variety of trophies and was followed by
speeches by Guttmann, a representative of the Prime Minister of Japan,
the Minister of Health and the Governor of Tokyo. Everybody present
collectively sang Auld Lang Syne and as the sound of thousands of
people joining together rang-out, the atmosphere was unforgettable and
truly celebratory. In a mark of the gravity and impact of the Games,
young Japanese students and children clamoured to catch the hats of the
athletes and participants who were moved to toss them into the
gathering crowds. “Not much of a Closing Ceremony,” remembered Walton.
“But in my experience, most closings seem to be a party, which that one
was as well, but no real Closing Ceremony.”