Yoshinori Sakai about to light the flame at the 1964 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
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1964 Olympic flame torchbearer Yoshinori Sakai dies

The IAAF is very saddened to hear of the death of Yoshinori Sakai, who lit the flame at the 1964 Olympic Games when he was 19. He died of a brain haemorrhage at a Tokyo hospital early Wednesday morning (10) at the age of 69.

He was born in Miyoshi, Hiroshima Prefecture, on 6 August. 1945, the day that the city of Hiroshima was struck by an atomic bomb.

In 1964, as a first-year student and aspiring sprinter at Waseda University, he was chosen for his historic role that summer to symbolise Japan's post-war reconstruction and peace.

As the 100,713th and final torch bearer at the 1964 Olympic Games, he carried the torch up the stairs to light the cauldron in the National Stadium at the opening ceremony.

He won the Japanese 400m title in 1966 and won a gold medal as part of Japan’s 4x400m team at the 1966 Asian Games in Bangkok, and as well as a 400m silver medal.

After finishing competitive athletics, he became a journalist and sports producer with the Fuji Television Network.

The IAAF wishes to pass on its condolences to Yoshinori Sakai’s family and friends.

IAAF