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Mexico ’68: the look that captivates crowds to this day

Getty Images
29 Oct 2018
Olympic News, Mexico 1968, Legacy
Of the many legacies that the Olympic Games Mexico City 1968 left behind, their look was one that transcended cultural and linguistic barriers. The iconic design, which combined ancient Mexican history and culture with modernity, turned the city into a vibrant, contemporary, global capital and became a gold standard for future Olympic Games.

With its bright colours, psychedelic patterning and folk ethos, the avant-garde emblem of the Games – with the number “68” formed of five Olympic rings – captured the spirit of the times, while being deeply rooted in native Mexican folk art.  

It wasn’t just the venues that benefited from the new visual identity, though. Bright hues, hypnotic graphics and luminous emblems permeated the whole city, as well as the fashion of the day. Ornamental balloons were flown above major venues to facilitate their location by non-Spanish speakers; and pictograms featuring sports gear and body-parts helped Olympic fans find their way around the city, strongly influencing the evolution of iconography as we know it today.  

Central to the project was Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, head of the Mexico City Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. A respected architect and town-planner, Ramirez was a real visionary. He brought together a talented, energetic, international team that went on to create the iconic design with a truly global appeal.


This graphic legacy carried on after the Games. In 1969, Lance Wyman – an American graphic designer who was part of Pedro Ramírez Vázquez’s original team – adapted the Olympic-style pictogram system for the city’s subway map. And in 1970, the FIFA World Cup hosted by Mexico also used the Olympic design in its posters.  

Today, half a century later, the iconic look is in the spotlight again. It features prominently in The Olympic Museum’s “Olympic Language: Exploring the Look of the Games” exhibition in Lausanne and was showcased during a fashion show recently organised by Mexico City as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Earlier this year too, the International Olympic Committee and Lacoste announced the launch of the first exclusive Olympic Heritage lifestyle apparel collection, developed by Lacoste. This new men’s clothing and accessories line features limited edition collections that will reflect the graphic legacy of legendary Olympic Games. For the first edition, Lacoste chose to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Olympic Games Mexico City 1968.


Fifty years on, the Mexico ’68 look is again mesmerising audiences around the world. Its success shows that the Olympic Games can leave a legacy that stands the test of time and has a powerful impact well beyond the world of sport.
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