The Games are intended to mark a turning point in how the world views the Japanese city which was the target of the first atomic bomb. As the final 48 hours' countdown started, the weather improved and China not only announced that they would compete but also take part in the opening ceremony.
There were still problems ahead - left-wing activists have vowed to disrupt Emperor Hirohito's attendance and China are still incensed at the presence of a leading Taiwanese official.
Before competition has even started the event has already set records: the biggest number of competitors (7,300) from the biggest number of countries (42) will be competing in the biggest number of sports (34) and for the first time it will all happen outside a capital city.
To accommodate the Games, Hiroshima, 450 miles south-west of Tokyo, has built a new international airport and a new stadium. The Games, which are the 12th to be held since New Delhi in 1951, end on 16 October.Reuse content