Tokyo’s real heroes will be medical workers, 1964 Games pilot says

Japanese Air Force aerobatic team Blue Impulse draw Olympic rings in the sky during the opening ceremony of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, above the capital of Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on October 10, 1964. Mandatory Kyodo Credit via REUTERS

TOKYO, July 2 (Reuters) – A Japanese national hero who accurately drew the Olympic rings in the sky to mark the start of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics has said that today’s heroes are medical workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.

As a member of the Japanese Air Force Aerobatic Demonstration Squadron, Blue Impulse, Katsushige Nishimura and four others drew the symbol of the Games in a clear autumn sky nearly six decades.

For many in Japan, it was one of the most memorable moments in the sporting event held to show the world the country’s recovery from the ashes of World War II.

The government plans for Blue Impulse to fly again on the opening day of the Summer Games this year and shoot the rings at the capital. The Tokyo Olympics, postponed for a year due to the pandemic, should begin on July 23.

“First and foremost, I would like to encourage and show our appreciation to medical workers,” Nishimura, 84, told Reuters. “It’s great if the athletes come to the Games remembering that they can compete because of these medical workers.”

He recalled how, during exercise flights leading up to the 1964 Olympics, he and his fellow Blue Impulse pilots struggled to draw satisfactory rings.

“It was mostly a mess at the start. We couldn’t form perfect circles, some circles were bigger than others and the five rings didn’t fit together,” Nishimura said.

This struggle, he said, made the success of the opening ceremony even more delicious.

“I took my plane higher (after drawing the circle) and saw people in the national stadium looking upwards. I saw them through the rings that we just created. It was a while moving, ”Nishimura said.

Report by Kiyoshi Takenaka. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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