And so also began one of the legendary rivalries in the sport. Japan and the Soviet Union had split the previous two world championships, with Japan winning in 1962. But in the Olympics on their home soil, the Japanese were not seriously threatened, going 5-0 in the six-nation tournament and losing only one set throughout. Their final game against the Soviets reportedly gained an 80% share on national television.
Over the course of the next three Olympics, the two teams claimed the top spots. The Soviets won in 1968 and 1972 with the Japanese in second, but the tables turned in 1976. Japan hasn't quite been able to continue their success as well as the Soviets / Russians in the decades since - Japan has only been on the podium since, in 1984, while the Soviets / Russians have medalled 5 more times - but their victory in Tokyo on this date in 1964 vaulted them toward iconic status in the sport and in their country. And as the first team sport champions for women, legends of the Games, too