Bill Emmott

The reinvention of a nation

When, in 2020, Tokyo hosts the summer Olympics, will one of Japan’s 70,000 centenarians carry the flame?

When Japan hosts the Rugby Union World Cup next year, and still more so the summer Olympics in 2020, all eyes will be on its omotenashi (hospitality), perhaps its technology, certainly its efficiency, but there will be little thought of symbolism. Not so for the 1964 Tokyo games, when the Olympic flame was carried up its last 160 steps by a 19-year-old named Yoshinori Sakai, who had been born, near Hiroshima, on the day the atomic bomb was dropped.

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