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Robots and reconstruction: can Tokyo 2020 top 1964’s Olympic legacy?

The Japanese capital’s futuristic first Games in 1964 set a dazzlingly high bar it will struggle to reach next year

There is a simple riposte to anyone who doubts an Olympics can truly transform a city: Tokyo. When Japan’s capital first won the right to host the Games, in 1959, it suffered from a desperate shortage of housing and functional infrastructure – and the lack of flush toilets meant most waste had to be vacuumed daily out of cesspits underneath buildings by “honey wagon” trucks. But within five years Japan’s capital had undergone such a metamorphosis that visitors to the 1964 Olympics responded with stunned awe.

“Out of the jungle of concrete mixers, mud and timber that has been Tokyo for years, the city has emerged, as from a chrysalis, to stand glitteringly ready for the Olympics,” the Times’ correspondent swooned, citing a long list of buildings and accomplishments “all blurring into a neon haze … that will convince the new arrival he has come upon a mirage.”

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Robots and reconstruction: can Tokyo 2020 top 1964’s Olympic legacy?

The Japanese capital’s futuristic first Games in 1964 set a dazzlingly high bar it will struggle to reach next year

There is a simple riposte to anyone who doubts an Olympics can truly transform a city: Tokyo. When Japan’s capital first won the right to host the Games, in 1959, it suffered from a desperate shortage of housing and functional infrastructure – and the lack of flush toilets meant most waste had to be vacuumed daily out of cesspits underneath buildings by “honey wagon” trucks. But within five years Japan’s capital had undergone such a metamorphosis that visitors to the 1964 Olympics responded with stunned awe.

“Out of the jungle of concrete mixers, mud and timber that has been Tokyo for years, the city has emerged, as from a chrysalis, to stand glitteringly ready for the Olympics,” the Times’ correspondent swooned, citing a long list of buildings and accomplishments “all blurring into a neon haze … that will convince the new arrival he has come upon a mirage.”

Continue reading...

About the Author

Comments are closed.