Tokyo's forthcoming Olympic Games will be the first ever held in Asia, and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED decided early in 1963 that this special year-end issue would be a salute to the sportsmen of that vast, fascinating—and seemingly far away—continent. To achieve that goal, our writers and photographers and artists spent months in research and reporting, and traveled in all close to 175,000 miles—most of it by jet but a significant part by auto, train, sloop, junk and even sampan.
Alfred Wright's assignment (page 61) began in July. After filing a story from Dallas on Golfer Jack Nicklaus' victory in the PGA championship, Wright flew from Texas to Japan and then south to Hong Kong, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia.
Carleton Mitchell was vacationing in the Mediterranean, at Portofino, when he was asked to do a piece on sailing in the coastal waters of Japan (page 106). Mitchell flew to Paris, jetted over the North Pole to Tokyo and then settled down for the more leisurely pace of a cruising yacht.
David Moore, whose 12-page portfolio of color photographs on Oriental sport begins on page 39, was in a much handier spot, Australia. A mere 15,000-mile round trip took him from down under through most of eastern Asia and back down again.
December 23, 1963
Franklin McMahon is one of the original traveling artist-reporters and occasionally reminds art directors of that fact by mailing them a photograph of his shirt pocket, in which is stuck a drawing pencil and on which is lettered the motto, "Have pencil, will travel." McMahon did the paintings on sporting Bangkok that begin on page 78.
Fred R. Smith made two New York-to-Orient journeys seven months apart to collect the multitude of travel facts that begin on page 86. He personally logged about 50,000 miles of travel.
Jerry Cooke, who roams the world the way other people move around a supermarket, had black-and-white photography assignments that made him yet another commuter on the New York-Asia track.
The only real laggard was Robert Creamer. In Los Angeles for a Dodger-Giant baseball series, he had to travel all of 17 miles from Chavez Ravine to UCLA to interview China's C. K. Yang, who graces our cover.
Everyone was happy about the welcome he got on his travels, but none more so than Alfred Wright, who was taking his second look at the far Pacific and its shores. His first sightings had been from Navy dive bombers when he was Ensign Wright, USNR (later lieutenant commander with a DFC), flying off the Saratoga, Enterprise and Yorktown. Wright says, "It was 18 years later, but I was surprised by the warmth and the courtesy of the people. Even in Cambodia, which doesn't seem particularly friendly to the U.S. right now. The Cambodians threw a champagne d'honneur for me, which is French-Cambodian for a cocktail party. There were people there from the army, from the palace, from the diplomatic corps—even the Cambodian national swimming team.
"When I was presented to Prince Sihanouk I carried some copies of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED with me, to acquaint him with the magazine. But over a ceremonial glass the Prince told me in careful but impeccable English that he knew all about us."
These correspondents and other staff members are about to enjoy their year-end holiday. In our next issue, two weeks hence, we will announce our Sportsman of the Year. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.