Route design and details
The relay symbolised the link between the Mediterranean and American civilisations and retraced the first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World. It evoked the events and places associated with this voyage, notably travelling through the three key places of Genoa, the birthplace of Columbus; Palos in Spain, from where he set sail; and San Salvador, the first land he reached on the other side of the Atlantic.
After its lighting in Olympia, the flame travelled by relay in Greece to Athens, from where it set sail for Italy on 25 August.
The 27th of August, the flame disembarked in Genoa, Italy where a ceremony was held in front of the house where Christophe Columbus had lived. It left the next day, again by sea, for Spain.
The 30th of August, the flame reached Barcelona, the city where Columbus had arrived on his return from America. On land, it travelled across Spain via Madrid to Palos. The last relay leg was run by Cristóbal Colón Carbajal, a direct descendant of Christopher Columbus. According to Stratos Klimou (2019), for the Spanish leg of the relay, an additional type of torch, which was different from the four others presented above, was used on certain occasions.
The flame left the south coast of Spain on 12 September, reaching the Canary Islands on 14 September and, a fortnight later, San Salvador, Bahamas in the same place that Columbus landed in the New World in 1492.
The 6th of October, the flame disembarked in Veracruz in Mexico, transported by a relay of 17 swimmers who carried it to the shore. It was then brought to Teotihuacan, 38 km from Mexico City. There, on the evening of 11 October, under the watchful eye of 50,000 spectators, a majestic ceremony symbolising the fusion of mythologies from the Old and New Worlds took place on the site of pre-Columbian pyramids.
When the flame arrived in Mexico City on the morning of the Opening Ceremony on 12 October two torches were lit from it. One torch was taken to the National Museum of Anthropology, one of the Cultural Olympiad sites. A second torch was taken by plane to the site of the sailing competitions in Acapulco. In both places a cauldron was lit and kept burning for the duration of the Games.
IOC Description: Type 1:Vertical grooves present on the whole body of the torch. The top bears the caption Mexico 68 carved and traced twice in the metal.
Type 2: Similar to type 1 except for the bottom part of the body of the torch constituted by a black leather handle.
Type 3: A part of the handle is wooden. A motif featuring a dove is repeated on the upper part. The caption Mexico is reproduced twice at the base of the handle.
Type 4: A silver ring with repeated dove motifs decorates the top of the torch. The caption Mexico was reproduced twice at the base of the handle
Colour: Type 1: Silver Type 2: Silver, black Type 3: Silver, brown Type 4: Silver, black, brown
Height: Type 1: 45 cm Type 2: 45 cm Type 3: 52.5 cm Type 4: 53 cm
Composition: Type 1: Steel Type 2: Steel, leather Type 3: Metal, wood Type 4: Steel, wood
Fuel: Solid mix of nitrates, sulphurs, alkaline metal carbonates, resins and silicones. No precision if this fuel was used for all of the torch types.
Designer / Manufacturer: Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, Eduardo Terrazas, Lance Wyman, Manuel Villazon and Peter Murdoch et al / Productos Victor S.A. et al. No precision on which torch type(s) each designer/manufacturer worked on.
IOCStart date: 23 August 1968, Olympia (Greece)
End date: 12 October 1968, Olympic Stadium, Mexico (Mexico)
First torchbearer: Haris Aivaliotis
Last torchbearers: Enriqueta Basilio Sotelo, Olympic participant in athletics (1968)
Number of torchbearers: 2,778 of which 360 were in Greece and 816 from the Veracruz shore to Mexico City.
Recruitment of torchbearers: The torchbearers came from the various countries crossed.
Distance: 13,536 km in total from Olympia to Mexico City, including sea travel and 350 km in Greece (Mexico City to Acapulco relay excluded).
Countries visited: Greece, Italy, Spain, Bahamas, Mexico
Did you know?
- Enriqueta Basilio Sotelo became the first woman to light the main cauldron at an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
- In honour of the flame, 2,500 craftsmen created a multi-coloured motif over three kilometres long made up of flowers, sawdust and white sand on the main street in the village of Huamantla, Mexico.