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Games of the XII Olympiad: Not celebrated

Tokyo 1940

Last modified: 2022-08-12 by zachary harden
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The 1940 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XII Olympiad, were originally scheduled to be held from September 21 to October 6, 1940, in Tokyo, Japan. They were rescheduled for Helsinki, Finland, to be held from July 20 to August 4, 1940, but were ultimately cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. Helsinki eventually hosted the 1952 Summer Olympics and Tokyo the 1964 Summer Olympics.

Tokyo 1940 flag

image located by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 10 March 2019

Earlier today, I was idly browsing through You Tube when I came across the following link. At 2.34 minutes or thereabouts, you will see flying what appears to me to be the flag of the Governor of Jamaica. I am no student of Olympic history and do not know whether the Jamaicans took part in this Olympiad, but even if they did, this flag must surely have been hoisted in error. 
Peter Johnson, 05 August 2011

I'd like to share with you the image displayed at this link. This appears to show four defaced Union Flags in addition to the undefaced flag of the United Kingdom. One of these must clearly be that of the Indian Empire, but what could the other three be? Alas, I cannot zoom in closer on this image. Further to my last message, I now gather from Wikipedia that Jamaica did not send a team to the 1936 Olympics. Curiouser and curiouser.
Peter Johnson, 08 August 2011

I'm no expert on British flags, but from what I can read on the image posted, it says that the four defaced Union Jack flags are (from top to bottom):
- Malta
- Bermuda
- United Kingdom (GB)
- India
- Jamaica (In this case, you mention Jamaica did not participate, but on the postcard the name "Jamaica" is clearly seen).
Esteban Rivera, 08 August 2011

Before anyone starts jumping up and down saying "Wikipedia must be wrong", it's intersting to note that Wikipedia lists 49 competing nations (th no Jamaica), and other soures (such as N. Blundell and D.
Mackay's massice tome "The History of the Olympics") also list 49 competing nations - as does this Wikipedia page. So either publicity for the games included Jamaica, who later pulled out (possible) or Wikipedia's list accidentally excludes Jamaica but includes another country hich did not attend (also possible). The former is more likely though, given that Wikipedia and list all the competing athletes on subpages - and  none of them seems to be Jamaican.
I do note, though, that Jamaica's Olympics Committee was officially recognised in 1936 - could it be that this is the reason the flag was present? Maybe all countries with Olympics committees had flags at the games, whether they had sent a team or not?
James Dignan, 09 August 2011

The organisers of the 1936 Olympics appear to have regarded the respective Governors' flags as those of the participating colonies themselves.
All the hard work put into the various German flaggenbuchs seems to have been in vain.
Peter Johnson, 09 August 2011

I came across an Olympic flag for Tokyo. It's a flag for the next Olympiad from Berlin 1936, now in the Edo-Tokyo Museum. It shows the Olympic Rings, that didn't exactly hold true to colour, and the main text "XII. Olympiade Tokyo-1940".

I'm not sure what this is, exactly; the poster describes it as a 1936 souvenir hand-flag. It appears to be rather well-constructed for a souvenir flag, though. The text is in Fraktur-like font, to suggest Germany, but there are little things that I'm not sure about. Plus, in the top-hoist corner, it says "Mizuno". (Not the current Mizuno, obviously, however his family have been in the sportswear business for quite a while; they may have made flags as well at some point.) I lean towards it having been rather a Japanese flag, presented to Germans at Berlin. 1936, as an invitation to come to Japan.

Unfortunately, neither the image nor the text tell us much about the size.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 10 March 2019