kano12 The Death of Jigoro Kano

A Disappointed Old Man Dies
War Spoiled His Athletic Dreams

By Royal Brougham

News item – Died at sea: Jigoro Kano.

kano-coffin The Death of Jigoro Kano
The casket of the late Prof. Jigoro Kano draped in the Olympic flag arriving in Yokohama after his death at sea.

Just the other day a gracious, kindly little old man whose heart was wrapped up in youth and amateur athletics, sat chatting pleasantly with Seattle newspaper men at the Japanese Embassy. Sportsmanship is above war, observed the president of the Japan Amateur Athletic Union. Outwardly, Jigoro Kano was confident that shot and shell in the Orient would not interfere with his country’s elaborate plans for the 1940 Olympics.

In his soul, he probably knew differently. Count Kano will not be there to witness the Olympic spectacle he planned and worked for.

The doctors had a name for the disease but a heart heavy and broken from the shattering of his Olympic dreams probably contributed to his sudden death. He bravely tried to maintain a cheerful attitude on his Seattle visit, but not even a bland and smiling countenance could hide the disappointment within.

Those of us who were thrilled and awed by the never-to-be-forgotten scenes at the Berlin Games, and at Los Angeles four years before, can feel just a small part of the disappointment in Count Kano’s soul. Nothing has contributed half so much to better understanding and friendly relations among men of different race and tongue as athletics.

Tony and Georges and Fritz sweat and strive and strain in friendly rivalry, and their hates and prejudices disappear in a manner that would startle the garrulous delegates to the Hague peace conference. All the world respects a fellow who can run the century in 9.5; or who he can stroke a world’s championship rowing crew or swim the 100 in 52 flat, whether he be black, brown or white, eats his meat with chopsticks, fork or fingers or worships God, Mohammed or the Sun.

The spirit of camaraderie among athletes is finer than Hitler or Mussolini or a Japanese general could ever inspire in their armies in a thousand years.

But the dictators and the war lords are in the saddle, and maybe little Jigoro Kano’s last breath on the ocean liner was a sigh of relief at escaping from a crazy world.

It is not the accumulation of extraneous knowledge, but the realization of the self within, that constitutes true progress – Okakura Kakuzo