Mexico City celebrates 50 years of trend-setting legacy
From its cutting edge Look of the Games to the advances made in sports science and the implementation of new innovations, the Olympic Games Mexico City 1968 are remembered as the Games that broke the mould.
The avant-garde emblem, combined with modern venue designs and the use of satellite technology to broadcast the Games to more fans than ever before, reflected the Organising Committee and government’s desire to announce the modernisation of Mexico City to the world.
The Games also served as a catalyst to renovate existing structures and build seven new contemporary facilities, including two Olympic Villages, with long-term use in mind. A total of 23 venues that held Olympic competitions in 1968 are still in use today, ranging from amateur use to hosting major events.
In another first, the two Olympic Villages that were constructed ahead of the Games were later sold for private residential use, which had never been done before. Half a century later, they continue to be occupied by local residents. Building on from Mexico ‘68, future hosts of the Games followed suit with this legacy strategy of building Villages that could later be used for public and private housing.
The sports infrastructure utilised for the Games demonstrates a true legacy from sport to city development. Boosted by foreign investment, an environment of economic and technological conditions was fostered that would allow Mexico to be considered a global player and benchmark for other developing countries.
Hosted in Latin America for the first time, this edition of the Games also broke gender barriers when Mexican hurdler Enriqueta Basilio became the first woman to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony. It was also the first Games to initiate anti-doping testing and electronic timing.
With competitions set at an altitude of 2,300m, concerns over athletic performance in the thin atmosphere served as an experimental platform that led to research and ultimately advances in sports science, such as the benefits of high-altitude training.
The reduced oxygen supply also set the stage for sprinters, jumpers and throwers to thrive, with 14 world and 12 Olympic records set.
Mexico City 1968 was also the first edition of the Games to use a synthetic track for the athletics competition, replacing its cinder predecessor, while the men’s 100m and women’s 200m butterfly were added to the Olympic aquatics programme and over 20 newly formed African nations competed for the first time post de-colonisation.