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Games of the XIX Olympiad
Games of the XIX Olympiad
Host city Mexico City, Mexico
Nations participating 112
Athletes participating 5,530
(4,750 men, 780 women)
Events 172 in 20 sports
Opening ceremony October 12
Closing ceremony October 27
Officially opened by President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz
Athlete's Oath Pablo Garrido
Olympic Torch Norma Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo
Stadium Estadio Olímpico Universitario

The 1968 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XIX Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held in Mexico City in October 1968. The 1968 Games were the first Olympic Games hosted by a developing country, and the first Games hosted by a Spanish-speaking country (followed in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain). It is the only Games ever held in Latin America (until Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics) and it was the second to be hosted outside of Europe, Australia, or the United States. It was also the third Olympic Games to be held in autumn, followed by the 1988 Summer Olympics.



On October 18, 1963, at the 60th IOC Session in Baden-Baden, West Germany, Mexico City finished ahead of bids from Detroit, Buenos Aires and Lyon to host the Games.

Results of the final bid are shown below, from the International Olympic Committee Vote History web page.

1968 Summer Olympics Bidding Result
City NOC Name Round 1
Mexico City  Mexico 30
Detroit  United States 14
Lyon  France 12
Buenos Aires  Argentina 2


  • In the 200 m medal award ceremony, African-American athletes Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) raised their black-gloved fists as a symbol of "Black Power". The Australian Peter Norman, who had run second, wore an American "civil rights" badge as support to them on the podium. As punishment, the International Olympic Committee banned Smith and Carlos from the Olympic Games for life, and Norman was left off the Australian 1972 Olympic team.
  • The high altitude of Mexico City (2240 m) was suspected to be difficult to adjust to for many endurance athletes. No other Summer Olympic Games have been held at a location remotely as high as Mexico City. This high altitude and the thin air were also credited with contributing to many record-setting jumps and leaps in the long jump, triple jump, high jump, and pole vault events, and throwing events like the discus throw, as well as all the men's track events of 400 meters and less. As a reminder of this fact, one of the promotional articles of these games was a little metallic box with "Aire de Mexico" (Air of Mexico), that was "Especial para batir records" (Special for breaking records).
  • For the first time, athletes from East and West Germany were members of separate teams, after having been told to compete in a combined German team in 1956, 1960, and 1964. Ode to Joy was played when East Germany and West Germany arrived to the stadium.
  • American discus thrower Al Oerter, won his fourth consecutive gold medal in that event to become only the second athlete to achieve this feat in an individual event, and the first in track & field (athletics).
  • Bob Beamon jumped 8.90 meters in the long jump, an incredible 55-centimeter improvement over the previous world record. His record would stand until 1991, when it was broken by Mike Powell (it is still the Olympic record). American athletes Jim Hines and Lee Evans also set long-standing world records in the 100 meters and 400 meters, respectively, that would last for many years to come.
  • In the triple jump, the previous world record was improved five times by three different athletes.
  • Dick Fosbury won the gold medal in the high jump using the new, radical Fosbury flop technique, which quickly became the dominant technique in the event.
  • Czechoslovakian gymnast Věra Čáslavská won four gold medals.
  • American swimmer Debbie Meyer became the first swimmer to win three individual gold medals, in the 200, 400 and 800 meter freestyle events. The 800 meters was a new long-distance event for women. Debbie was only 16 years old at the time, attending Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, California.
  • American swimmer Charles Hickcox won three gold medals (200m IM, 400m IM, 4x100m medley relay) and one silver medal (100m backstroke).
  • The introduction of doping tests resulted in the first disqualification because of doping: Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall was disqualified for alcohol use (he drank several beers just prior to competing).
  • John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania became internationally famous after finishing the marathon, in last place, despite a dislocated knee.
  • This was the first of three Olympic participations by Jacques Rogge. He competed in yachting and would later become the eighth president of the IOC.
  • The Mexican athlete Norma Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo became the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic flame.
  • It was the first games at which there was a significant African presence in men's distance running. Africans won at least one medal in all running events from 800 meters to the marathon, and in so doing they set a trend for future games. Most of these runners came from high-altitude areas of countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, and they were well-prepared for the 2240 meter altitude of Mexico City.
  • It was the first games which began to chronometrate the time of the test sports. also, an electronic display was installed in the Olympic Stadium for the first time.
  • The architects Eduardo Terrazas and Lance Wyman designed a very useful pictogram system to identify the sport venues, the cultural events and other services across the city. Its design is still admired and recognized as a symbol of Mexican art and culture.
  • The logo of the games was inspired by the art works of the Huicholes, an ethnic group of Mexico.
  • It was the first games where the closing ceremony was transmitted in color to all the world.


On October 2, 1968, ten days before the start of the 1968 Summer Olympics the Plaza de las Tres Culturas was the scene of the Tlatelolco massacre, in which more than 300 student protesters were killed after a battle against the army and police. Despite the event, the International Olympic Committee did not consider canceling the games, because it was an isolated event involving a social minority.

On October 16, 1968, an action by two African-American sprinters at the Mexico City Olympics shook the sporting world.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the gold and bronze medalists in the men's 200-meter race, took their places on the podium for the medal ceremony barefooted and wearing civil rights badges, lowered their heads and each defiantly raised a black-gloved fist as the Star Spangled Banner was played. Both of them were members of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.

Some people (particularly IOC president Avery Brundage) felt that a political statement had no place in the international forum of the Olympic Games. In an immediate response to their actions, Smith and Carlos were suspended from the U.S. team by Brundage and banned from the Olympic Village. Those who opposed the protest said the actions disgraced all Americans. Supporters, on the other hand, praised the men for their bravery.

Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who came second in the 200 m race, and Martin Jellinghaus, a member of the German bronze medal-winning 1600-meter relay team, also wore Olympic Project for Human Rights badges at the games to show support for the suspended American sprinters.

In another incident, while standing on the medal podium after the balance beam event final, Czechoslovakian gymnast Věra Čáslavská quietly turned her head down and away during the playing of the Soviet national anthem. The action was Čáslavská's silent protest against the recent Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and was repeated when she accepted her medal for her floor exercise routine. While Čáslavská's countrymen supported her actions and her outspoken opposition to Communism (she had publicly signed and supported Ludvik Vaculik's "Two Thousand Words" manifesto), the new regime responded by banning her from both sporting events and international travel for many years.


  • Mexico City venues
    • University City (Ciudad Universitaria) venues
      • University City Olympic Stadium² (Estadio Olímpico Universitario) – opening/closing ceremonies, athletics, football/soccer
      • University City Swimming Pool² – water polo
    • Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City (Ciudad Deportiva de la Magdalena Mixhuca) venues
      • Agustín Melgar Olympic Velodrome¹ (Velodromo Olímpico) – cycling
      • Fernando Montes de Oca Fencing Hall¹ – fencing
      • Juan Escutia Sports Palace¹ (Palacio de los Deportes Juan Escutia) – basketball
      • Municipal Stadium² – hockey
    • Chapultepec Park venues
      • National Auditorium² (Auditorio Nacional) – gymnastics
      • Campo Marte² – equestrian events
      • Chapultepec Sports Center² – fronton, tennis
    • Aztec Stadium² (Estadio Azteca) – football/soccer
    • Francisco Márquez Olympic Pool¹ (Alberca Olímpica Francisco Márquez) – swimming, diving, water polo
    • Juan de la Barrera Olympic Gymnasium¹ (Gimnasio Olímpico Juan de la Barrera) – volleyball
    • Arena México² – boxing
    • Insurgentes Theater² – weightlifting
    • Insurgentes Ice Rink² – wrestling
    • Revolution Ice Rink² – volleyball
    • Frontón México² – fronton
    • Asturian Sports Center² – fronton
    • Lebanese Sports Center² – fronton
    • Frontón Metropolitano² – fronton
    • Vicente Suárez Shooting Range¹, Campo Militar No. 1, Lomas Sotelo district – shooting
    • Campo Militar No. 1², Lomas de Sotelo district – modern pentathlon
    • Virgilio Uribe Rowing and Canoeing Course¹ (Pista Olímpica Virgilio Uribe), Xochimilco at Cuemanco – rowing, canoeing
  • Venues outside Mexico City (Guadalajara, Puebla, Acapulco):

¹ New facilities constructed in preparation for the Olympic Games. ² Existing facilities modified or refurbished in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Medals awarded

See the medal winners, ordered by sport:


Demonstration sports

The organizers declined to hold a judo tournament at the Olympics, even though it had been a full-medal sport four years earlier. This was the last time judo was not included in the Olympic games.

Participating nations


East Germany and West Germany competed as separate entities for the first time in at a Summer Olympiad, and would remain so through 1988. Barbados competed for the first time as an independent country. Also competing for the first time in a Summer Olympiad were British Honduras (now Belize), Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (as Congo-Kinshasa), El Salvador, Guinea, Honduras, Kuwait, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, and the United States Virgin Islands. Singapore returned to the Games as an independent country after competing as part of the Malaysian team in 1964.

Medal count

These are the top ten nations that won medals at these Games (host Mexico won 3 of each color of medal):

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 45 28 34 107
2 Soviet Union 29 32 30 91
3 Japan 11 7 7 25
4 Hungary 10 10 12 32
5 East Germany 9 9 7 25
6 France 7 3 5 15
7 Czechoslovakia 7 2 4 13
8 West Germany 5 11 10 26
9 Australia 5 7 5 17
10 Great Britain 5 5 3 13

See also


External links

Preceded by
Summer Olympic Games
Mexico City

XIX Olympiad (1968)
Succeeded by

Simple English

The 1968 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XIX Olympiad, were held in Mexico City in 1968. Mexico City beat out bids from Detroit, Buenos Aires and Lyon to host the Games in 1963. The Games were preceded by the Tlatelolco massacre, in which hundreds of students were killed by security forces ten days before the opening day. It is the only Games ever held in Latin America, and it was the second ever outside of Western Europe, Australia, or the USA.

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