Preparations for the opening ceremony were completed at 1.30 pm. The Olympic kick-off began promptly at 1.50 pm with the hoisting of the Olympic flags and the flags of the participating nations on the flagpoles surrounding the stadium grandstand. To the sound of electronic music, His Majesty the Emperor arrived at the stadium and proceeded to the royal box, where he stopped briefly. At the same time, the Japanese national anthem was played.
Punctually at 2.00 pm, in bright sunshine, the first delegation – Greece – entered the cinder track of the Olympic Stadium to the cheers of 83,000 spectators. Most of the athletes in the parade – without cameras or mobile phones in hand, unlike modern ceremonies – were dressed in regular uniforms. The African delegations wore traditional dress. The German, American and Soviet delegations stood out for their size, with the USA and USSR entering the stadium one after the other (in alphabetical order). The Japanese delegation, dressed all in red, entered last to thunderous applause. In total, some 5,700 athletes and officials lined up in groups on the grass in the middle of the stadium.
The Olympic anthem was played while the iconic white flag with the five rings was carried into the stadium by Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Forces members. The flag was then raised from a 15.21-metre high pole. The mayor of Rome – the host city of the 1960 Games – stood in front of the podium with an embroidered Olympic flag before presenting it to the governor of Tokyo. A cannon salute was fired and thousands of colourful balloons were released into the sky. Then the last torchbearer – Yoshinori Sakai, a Japanese athlete born on 6 August 1945 – entered the stadium carrying the flame. The athletes who had gathered on the lawn dispersed and formed a guard of honour. Sakai walked up the 163 steps to the Olympic cauldron, which he lit with a beaming smile at 3 minutes and 3 seconds past 3 pm.
At the end of the ceremony, five jet planes formed the Olympic rings into the autumn sky high above the stadium, and the delegations then left the arena through the north and south gates. Two weeks of sporting excellence had begun.
Photos in this collection provided by the Czech Olympic Committee, Olympic Committee of Portugal, German Olympic Sport Confederation, Hellenic Olympic Committee, Bulgarian Olympic Committee and Slovenian Olympic Committee