Mexico City 1968 – the groundbreaking Games whose legacy lives on
Today marks 50 years since the opening of the Olympic Games Mexico City 1968 – and a culmination of year-round celebrations inspired by the legacy of the Games.
The 1968 Games were the first to be held in Latin America. They inspired generations of sports fans around the world and enabled Mexico to host many sports competitions over the five decades that followed.
The 50th anniversary of the Games focuses on sport, culture, infrastructure and the recognition of Olympic heroes. Enriqueta Basilio will re-light the cauldron, a reminder of the Opening Ceremony of the 1968 Games when she became the first woman ever to do so.
The year 2018 has seen an exciting mix of grassroots sports events and national and international championships taking place, celebrating the 1968 sports legacy. For example, the 36th edition of the Mexico City Marathon gathered together over 35,000 runners and followed the Mexico ’68 Olympic route. Its finish line was at the University Stadium, where the Opening Ceremony and athletics competitions took place back in 1968.
Culture played a highly significant role during the 1968 Olympics. During the Games, Mexico was able to celebrate its rich cultural heritage, as well as cultural diversity around the globe. It re-established the Cultural Olympiad as a key part of the Olympic Games and was the first Olympic host to hold a year-long Cultural Olympiad. This year’s celebrations include a wide variety of artistic and educational activities to commemorate this historic event.
The anniversary year has provided a perfect opportunity to renovate and upgrade some of the 1968 Olympic venues, such as the fencing hall, the Azteca football stadium and the Francisco Marquez Olympic Pool. Seven Olympic venues and two Villages were built for the Games 50 years ago and have all remained in use since, benefitting professional athletes, sports clubs and residents. The Mexican Olympic Sports Centre, for example, has been the training site for Mexican elite athletes and the headquarters of the Mexican Olympic Committee for the last five decades. The Olympic Villages today provide much needed social housing to the city.
The 1968 Olympic Games were marked by extraordinary sporting performances and a high number of sporting records. They made a lasting impact on the spectators; and many of the Mexico ’68 athletes became national and international heroes. Olympic icons such as Mexican bronze medallist boxer Joaquín Rocha, gold medallist swimmer Felipe “Tibio” Muñoz and marathon runners Kenji Kimihara (Japan) and John Stephen Akhwari (Tanzania) have all been given special recognition during the celebrations. The Mexico ’68 Mexican Medallists Plaza will be inaugurated at the Magdalena Mixhuca Sports Complex – the 1968 Olympic Park – in honour of Mexico’s Olympic heroes.
Half a century after the iconic 1968 Olympic Games, their legacy lives on. As the city’s rich anniversary programme shows, this legacy continues to benefit local communities, and is a source of inspiration across generations, in Mexico and around the world.