Mexico’68 legacy gets fresh impetus on 50th anniversary
The Olympic Games Mexico City 1968 are remembered as one of the most iconic editions in history, and their legacy has become an integral part of the city’s daily life. As Mexico celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Games, many of the venues used for the Games have been renovated to ensure their continued use by generations to come, and to preserve the memory of some of the most extraordinary moments in Olympic history.
At the centre of the 1968 Olympic Games 50th anniversary celebrations is the University City Olympic Stadium. This is where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies took place, as well as the athletics and equestrian events, and also where the marathon finished. Parts of the 1968 Opening Ceremony were recently re-lived at the Stadium as part of the celebrations.
It was here that America’s Bob Beamon stunned crowds with his sensational, record-breaking 8.90m long jump back in 1968, and his compatriot Dick Fosbury introduced a new, backward arch high-jumping technique – dubbed the “Fosbury Flop” – which revolutionised the sport. Since then, the Stadium has continued to host national and international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup in 1986 and the annual IAAF Mexico City International Marathon.
Twenty one out of 23 Olympic competition venues remain in use today, and the remaining two venues, which were built before the Olympic Games, have since been dismantled. Six venues have been renovated as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations to provide a better service to their users. The Magdalena Mixhuca Sports Complex – the 1968 Olympic Park – has grown to span nearly three kilometres since the Games, and includes a variety of sports facilities, many of them originally built for the Games. A giant set of Olympic rings was recently revealed at the complex, reminding visitors of the rich legacy of the Games.
One of the refurbished venues situated within the complex is the Francisco Marquez Olympic Pool. The pool was built for the Olympic aquatic competitions, and has since been used by residents and swimming clubs. It is one of Mexico City's architectural gems thanks to its unique metal frame and large glass façade. In 1968, the venue saw Mexico’s Felipe Muñoz cement his place as a national sports legend when he won Olympic gold.
The Virgilio Uribe Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Canal has also been renewed. The venue was built in 1968 to host the rowing and canoeing competitions. Since then, it has been used by the local community and clubs, for national and international regattas, and as a training station for rowing and canoeing squads. For more than 30 years, the venue has also hosted Mexico’s biggest regatta – that of the Real Club España – which attracts teams from throughout Latin America and North America.
The Jesús Martínez Palillo Athletics Stadium, which hosted field hockey competitions back in 1968 and the Fernando Montes de Oca Olympic Fencing Hall were also renovated this year. They have both been used by the public since the Games, for a wide variety of sports, including athletics, football, basketball and martial arts.
The two 1968 Olympic villages remain occupied to this day. The villages were developed with long-term use in mind, and their apartments were sold on the open market following the Games – an innovative move that has been replicated by subsequent Olympic hosts.
Mexico City’s highly effective use of Olympic competition venues – for both local communities and professional athletes – and efforts to ensure this use continues well into the future are a prime example of how the Games can bring long-lasting and wide-ranging benefits to their hosts.