1968 Summer Olympics

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Games of the XIX. Olympics
1968 Summer Olympics logo
Venue: Mexico City ( Mexico )
Stadion: Estadio Olímpico Universitario
Opening ceremony: October 12, 1968
Closing ceremony: October 27, 1968
Opened by: Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (President)
Olympic oath : Pablo Garrido (athlete)
Disciplines: 24 (18 sports)
Competitions: 172
Countries: 112
Athletes: 5516, 781 of them women
Tokyo 1964
Munich 1972
Medal table
space country G S. B. Ges.
1 United StatesUnited States United States 45 28 34 107
2 Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union Soviet Union 29 32 30th 91
3 Japan 1870Japan Japan 11 7th 7th 25th
4th Hungary 1957Hungary Hungary 10 10 12 32
5 Germany Democratic Republic 1968GDR GDR 9 9 7th 25th
6th FranceFrance France 7th 3 5 15th
7th CzechoslovakiaCzechoslovakia Czechoslovakia 7th 2 4th 13
8th Germany BRBR Germany BR Germany 5 11 10 26th
9 AustraliaAustralia Australia 5 7th 5 17th
10 United KingdomUnited Kingdom Great Britain 5 5 3 18th
... ... ... ... ... ...
32 AustriaAustria Austria - 2 2 4th
33 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland - 1 4th 5
Complete medal table

The 1968 Summer Olympics (officially called the XIX Olympiad Games ) took place in Mexico City from October 12 to 27, 1968 . The capital of Mexico prevailed against competitors Detroit , Lyon and Buenos Aires at the 61st IOC session in Baden-Baden . 5516 athletes (4735 men and 781 women) from 112 nations took part in the games. The most successful nation was the USA , followed by the Soviet Union and Japan . The most successful athletes were the gymnast Věra Čáslavská ( Czechoslovakia ) with four gold and two silver medals and the Japanese gymnast Akinori Nakayama with four gold and one silver medal.

The 1968 Olympic Games marked a high point in the Olympic track and field competitions, with 17 world records being set. Outstanding was Bob Beamon's long jump world record , which was called the "leap into the next century" and is still an Olympic record today. The "Black Power" gesture of the two US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos , who won gold and bronze in the 200 meter race, but were expelled from the American committee of the Olympic village after their podium protest and left the country, also caused a stir Had to leave 48 hours.

In Mexico City, the two German states competed for the first time with separate teams, but still without their flags and different anthems. After 40 African countries threatened to boycott, South Africa and Rhodesia were excluded from the Olympic Games. In 1968 doping tests took place for the first time . The 1968 Olympic Games were also the first to be held in a developing country .

Choice of venue

Mexico City first applied for the 1956 Olympic Games in Rome in 1949 , but was eliminated in the second round of voting. As a result, Mexico successfully hosted major sporting events: in 1954 the Central America and Caribbean Games and in March 1955 the Pan American Games took place in Mexico City. The second application for the Olympic Games in 1955 at the IOC session in Paris was based on the resulting experience and the existing good sports facilities. After Mexico City received only six votes in the first ballot, the candidacy was withdrawn. For the 1964 Olympic Games to Mexico City competed not once, but made a bid to host the Summer Olympic Games 1968th

Under the direction of President Adolfo López Mateos , a 180-page brochure was created in which Mexico City's application was justified and presented in detail. It was filed with the IOC on September 7, 1962 . This type of presentation was not yet common at that time; in addition to the answers to the IOC questionnaire, it also contained information on the history of the country, depictions of the sports facilities, climate information and medical information about the effects of the altitude on the athletes. In addition, López Mateos had a provisional organizing committee set up on May 28, 1963 to underline the seriousness of the application. Mexico also agreed to cover the costs of an earlier stay for the teams to acclimatise to the altitude.

The decision on the venue was made at the 1963 IOC session in Baden-Baden . The meeting was relocated to Germany at short notice after the actual venue, Nairobi, was canceled following conflicts over South Africa's participation. In the vote on October 18, before questions could be put to the candidates for the first time, Mexico City prevailed in the first ballot with 30 votes against the competitors Detroit , Lyon and Buenos Aires . This decision came as a surprise. Lyon and Detroit had no chance, as they were in countries that, due to NATO membership , had blocked athletes from the GDR after the 1961 crisis as a result of the construction of the Berlin Wall and restrictions for the Western powers. IOC President Avery Brundage himself preferred Mexico City and saw the US as too deeply involved in the Cold War.



Adolfo López Mateos , temporary President of the Organizing Committee.

After the successful application, the provisional organizing committee was transformed into the Comité Organizador de los Juegos de la XIX Olimpiada . IOC member José Clark Flores took over the leadership , while the presidency of the organizing committee remained vacant for the time being. Agustín Legorreta and Pedro Ramírez Vázquez were appointed vice-presidents , who also headed the finance and construction management. After the presidential election in 1964, the newly elected head of state Gustavo Díaz Ordaz , who was the patron of the Organizing Committee, appointed his predecessor Adolfo López Mateos as President of the Organizing Committee. But he had to resign from this office in mid-1966 because he was seriously ill. Pedro Ramirez Vázquez succeeded him as OC President. However, the Mexican president reserved important decisions for himself. Shortly after the appointment, IOC President Ramirez Vázquez pointed out that the negative image of the Olympic preparations had to be improved. At a press conference, he then assured that the Olympic preparations would remain in a socially acceptable framework. He changed the direction of Mateo's goal - an increase in expenditure as a drive for economic upswing and urban development - towards efficiency and usefulness and wanted to make greater use of already existing cultural resources and infrastructure. Mexico shouldn't follow the Japanese example of high spending and high debt. This change in approach also received public support from the IOC President. One of Ramirez Vázquez's first announcements was the Cultural Olympiad, with which he wanted to strengthen the commitment of Mexicans and their support for the Olympic Games. In addition, it should also have an outward effect and counter the criticism with a positive image.

From July 25, 1967, the organizing committee had the status of a state organization. It had seven directors who were responsible for culture, public relations, visitor care, administration, sports technology, program control and control of the sports facilities. There was also a head of the Olympic auxiliaries and another 18 special departments. The Organizing Committee employed 14,531 people during the Olympic Games, plus members of the army and scouts as auxiliary personnel.

Despite the large number of existing sports facilities, the preparation for the Olympic Games triggered the construction of further facilities. The administrative authority of the federal district, the National Bank for State Buildings and the Ministry of State Buildings built new buildings for 670 million pesos . This is how the Centro Deportivo Olimpico Mexicano and the Olympic village Libertador Miguel Hidalgo with the halls for the wrestling and boxing competitions were created. Due to discussions about the financing, there were delays in the construction work, which together with the reference to the height problem, for example, made the Olympic Committee of the USA declare that it was ready to take over the hosting of the games at short notice.

In total, the 1968 Olympic Games cost 2.189 billion pesos, of which the government paid 710.2 million pesos. In addition, income of 128.8 million pesos was achieved, of which 80.2 million came from the sale of television rights. The pesos 2.189 billion, or about $ 176 million, was a fraction of Japan's spending on the 1964 Olympics. Nonetheless, it was a significant sum for the country and was a major criticism of the student protests that broke out before the Olympics and then fell.

Mexican domestic politics

The Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, whose term of office lasted from 1964 to 1970, was closely involved in the organization of the Olympic Games. However, he was not a supporter of the Games, but viewed them as a legacy of the previous government of Adolfo López Mateos, who had a strong interest in hosting the Olympic Games in the country. Mateos then took over the leadership of the organizing committee after the end of his term of office. He saw the financially expensive staging of the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which had led to a boost in urban development, as a model for the Mexican capital. The question of setting priorities for national development was, however, discussed controversially politically and in the Mexican media. When, two years after the successful application, there was hardly any progress in the preparations and even fewer positive effects of the event, but increased internal and foreign criticism, President Díaz Ordaz considered in the late summer of 1965 to discontinue support for the Games. Avery Brundage, on the other hand, remained optimistic, mainly due to the close links between the National Olympic Committee of Mexico and Mexican politics. The financial problems and lack of credibility were not resolved until late June 1966 when López Mateos resigned his post at the head of the organizing committee. The official reason for this was health problems, but the rift between the president and the chairman of the organizing committee and the dispute over the financing of the Olympic Games were accepted as the reason. On July 16, 1966, President Díaz Ordaz announced that Pedro Ramírez Vázquez should become the new OC chief. This had hardly any connections to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic movement. Although he was a member of the system, as an architect he was at the same time somewhat outside.

Mexico was the first developing country to host the Olympic Games. In the 1960s, Mexico was regarded as a country that could possibly fulfill the modernization theory and develop successfully economically and democratically in close association with the USA. The question of underdevelopment was therefore an aspect that the planners of the Olympic Games included in their considerations and tried to control the relevant discourse. This fact led on the one hand to questions about the material expenditure, on the other hand to the question whether the country would be able to hold such an event at all. The games were seen as a yardstick for the “ Mexican miracle ”. They should no longer show the capabilities of Mexico in front of the world and especially in relation to the United States of America, which differentiates them from previous participation in world exhibitions or the centenary celebrations of independence in 1910. Rather, they had the function of self-assurance of national self-confidence and cosmopolitanism . The highlighted observation of the limited national resources indicates a more economic than nationalistic motivation behind the planning as well as a more relaxed approach to the games. Nevertheless, the emphasis on national strengths and the correction of negative images of Mexico abroad also played a role in the planning. The Olympic Games are considered to be a central point in the history of Mexico in the 1960s, at which political and economic issues culminated. Sections of Mexicans viewed the Olympics as excessive and wasteful. So far, however, there has been no real study of the response of the population and of social support.

From June 1968 there were protests by students, which intensified from September, but were not mainly directed against the hosting of the Olympic Games. However, the students used symbols from the games to protest. On October 2, the military and the secret police put down the protests with the Tlatelolco massacre . As a result, Mexican officials worried about the country's reputation and damage to the Olympic Games. US newspapers in particular were very critical of the events, even though Avery Brundage did not intend to withdraw the games and expressed optimism that Mexico could guarantee safe games and contain the protests. On the day of the opening of the Olympic Games, the New York Times showed on its main page instead of the Olympic Stadium with the sculpture and the colored rings, a section of the image that faded out these aspects and instead just showed a chain of soldiers in front of the stadium.

Sports policy

The altitude of Mexico City of 2,310 meters above sea level, which had hardly played a role in the allocation of the games, was discussed more intensively afterwards. This was primarily a consequence of the created horror scenarios, for which the quotation attributed to the former world mile record holder Roger Bannister stood as a representative: "Death runs with ...". At the IOC session in Rome in 1966, the International Olympic Committee stated, following the expert reports, that the height posed no danger to the athletes. However, it decided that, in order to maintain equal opportunities, no athlete was allowed to spend more than four weeks at high altitudes in the three months before the Olympics. As already announced at the IOC session in Baden-Baden, the organizing committee organized three international sports weeks. This enabled the athletes to test the conditions at the altitude before the Olympic Games. The first sports week, in which 508 athletes from 18 NOKs took part, took place in October 1965, the second in October 1966 used 784 athletes from 25 NOKs. In October 1967, 2564 athletes from 56 NOKs took part in the third International Sports Week. These sporting events helped reduce concerns about the impact of altitude on athletes.

Sports medicine and science dealt intensively with the effects of altitude on athletes in the run-up to the 1968 Olympic Games. Until then, the knowledge about the effects on the hemoglobin content of the blood was only incomplete. In addition, the training methodology changed. For example, the Soviet Union set up a training center in Zaghkadzor in the Caucasus at an altitude of 2,100 meters, while the USA set up a similar center in South Lake Tahoe in California, where they also trained on a tartan track . The synthetic surface was first used at the Olympic Games in 1968, and time measurement in hundredths of a second was introduced. The IOC also introduced doping tests for the 1968 Olympic Games in Grenoble and Mexico City .

In the run-up to the 1968 Olympic Games, the IOC also dealt with the German-German question again. From 1956 to 1964 an all-German team competed. At the IOC session in Madrid on October 8, 1965, the GDR's NOK , which had had provisional status since 1955, was recognized under the name of East Germany. Despite this decision, which led to the fact that two German teams should compete for the first time in 1968, the IOC decided that the two NOCs should march into the stadium again under the German flag with the Olympic rings and at the award ceremonies the final chorus from Beethoven's ninth symphony instead of the Hymns should be played. In addition, the Berlin question could be clarified. East Berlin was declared to belong to the NOC of the GDR, West Berlin to the NOC of the FRG . At the 1968 IOC session in Mexico City, however, the question came up again because the GDR's NOK wanted to achieve full sovereignty. First, however, a decision was postponed to the following year with 24 to 17 votes. On October 12th, the opening day of the Games, the IOC executive reacted positively to a request from IOC member Heinz Schöbel , who was sent by the GDR, and recommended that the issues at issue be dealt with again. As a result, the designation NOK of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was approved for the period from November 1, 1968. At the same time, North Korea was given the name Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DRPK) and the Republic of China the name Republic of China (CRO). Since North Korea did not attend the opening ceremony and thus violated the agreement, IOC President Avery Brundage reversed the decision on October 14th.

South Africa was excluded from the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 due to apartheid . The IOC subsequently tried to integrate the National Olympic Committee of South Africa , but this led to protests from the African member countries. The newly admitted African NOCs formed the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa and demanded the exclusion of South Africa from the Olympic Games in Mexico City. They threatened to boycott the Games in the event that the demand was not met. The African countries found the support of Muslim and communist countries as well as the Caribbean states. The Western nations also supported this demand to varying degrees. The IOC gave in to pressure and excluded South Africa from participating. In 1970 the IOC decided that South Africa would remain excluded from the Olympic movement until the end of apartheid. Also Rhodesia was not allowed to participate. The Mexican government took this step because it saw an apartheid regime in Rhodesia as well, and against the will of IOC President Avery Brundage , for whom the country did not violate the Olympic Charter by allowing some black athletes to participate. In the run-up to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich , the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa also enforced an official ban on Rhodesia.


Sports facilities

The Estadio Olimpico de la Ciudad Universitaria was the central venue for the 1968 Olympic Games.
The gymnastics competitions took place in the Auditorio Nacional .
The swimming competitions were held in the Alberca Olímpica Francisco Márquez .

The Estadio Olimpico de la Ciudad Universitaria in southwest Mexico City , which opened in 1953, was used as the Olympic stadium for the 1968 Olympic Games . However, it was rebuilt for the games. The mosaic frescoes by Diego Rivera on the outside wall of the stadium remained unfinished because the artist died during the work. It was the scene of the opening and closing ceremonies and the venue for the athletics competitions, with the marathon starting in the Zocalo . On the final day, the team competition in show jumping took place in the Olympic Stadium. The dressage competitions and the individual jumping were held in the equestrian center Campo Marte near the Chapultepec Park, the eventing competitions took place in the Club de Golf Avándaro in Valle de Bravo , around 160 kilometers from Mexico City.

The venue for the gymnastics competitions was the Auditorio Nacional , built in 1952 . The boxing matches took place in the Arena México , which was built in the 1950s. The wrestling competitions were held in the Pista de Hielo Insurgentes and weightlifting in the Teatro de los Insurgentes , which opened in 1953 . In September 1967 the fencing hall Fernando Montes de Oca was completed, in which both fencing competitions and fencing of the modern pentathlon were held. The riding and running of the pentathlon were held on Campo Militar 1 , which also housed the temporary facilities for shooting sports. The Alberca Olímpica Francisco Márquez hosted swimming and diving competitions, as well as pentathlon swimming. In addition, water polo was played in it, as in the swimming pool of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México .

In the Velódromo Olímpico Agustín Melgar , which opened shortly before the games, the track bike races took place, while the road races were driven on a city center circuit. The rowing regattas and the canoeing races were held on a newly built canal in the Xochimilco district . Sailing at the 1968 Olympic Games was held in Acapulco at the Club de Yates de Acapulco . It had already been opened in 1953 and was subsequently used as a venue for sailing regattas.

The field hockey tournament was played in the Estadio Municipal during the Olympic Games. The volleyball games were played in the Pista de Hielo Revolución , some were also placed in the Gimnasio Olímpico Juan de la Barrera and in the Palacio de los Deportes , which was also the venue for the basketball tournament. The preliminary round and knockout matches of the football tournament took place in the Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara , which already existed before the games and held 31,891 spectators, and in the newly built Estadio Cuauhtémoc in Puebla with a capacity of 35,563, which opened on Opened October 6, 1968, and held Estadio Nou Camp in León with a capacity of 23,609. The final was played in front of 100,000 spectators in the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City.

Olympic Village

Two Olympic villages were built for the 1968 Olympic Games. The Libertador Miguel Hidalgo, near the Olympic Stadium in the south of the city, had 5,044 rooms. In the southeast of Mexico City, near the regatta course, was the Villa Narcisco Mendoza, which had 3,474 rooms and mainly offered space for participants in the Cultural Olympiad. Construction work on the Libertador Miguel Hidalgo began on May 2, 1967, and the village opened on September 12, 1968. Financing was provided by banks and the state, and the Organizing Committee paid the interest incurred with the rent for the complex. There were a total of 29 buildings, 24 of which were used for male athletes, three for female athletes and two for press representatives. After the Olympic Games, the apartments were sold as condominiums. The Olympic village had a cafeteria, two clinics as well as training facilities and rooms for the delegations. The press center was also located there. These facilities were temporary. The Villa Narcisco Mendoza was built between August 1967 and September 1968 and comprised 686 houses. The organizing committee also paid the accruing interest as rent for this village and financed the adjustments for the time of the Olympic Games. After the games, the houses were sold.

Cultural Olympiad

The abundance of the cultural program set new standards. While the importance of cultural events was enshrined in the Olympic Charter, Mexico was the first country to make it an integral part of hosting the Olympic Games. The Cultural Olympiad, in which 97 countries took part, comprised various artistic, musical, theatrical and scientific activities. There were art and dance festivals, meetings of poets and sculptors, various exhibitions, science congresses and an Olympic youth camp with 865 participants from 20 countries. The Mexican state had a great deal of experience in organizing and promoting cultural events from its cultural programs in the 1920s. Despite the very tight budget, around 1500 events took place in which national and international artists participated. 550 of them took place across the country, which should also strengthen the acceptance of the games beyond the capital. In addition to Mexican artists and intellectuals, hundreds of students, journalists, and government officials were also involved, who were supposed to be included.

Discourse strategy

The Cultural Olympiad began on January 19, 1968 and had the function of preparing Mexico City for the sporting competitions in October and strengthening social support. In addition to this national function, the cultural program was intended to convince international critics who were dissatisfied with the allocation of the Games to Mexico. The program spread motifs such as Mexico as a country that was not involved in racial or systemic conflicts and could act as a “harmonizing nation”. The country would thus embody the harmony of the Olympic idea. The image of Mexico as the “country of the future” also played a role in this cultural presentation.

The Cultural Olympiad had five discursive elements. First, the central role of the dove of peace , second, the use of Op Art as a central design element, third, the large presence of women in the appearance of the games, fourth, the inclusion of folklore and fifth, the use of bright colors. With the choice of the peace dove as a central element, the organizing committee referred to one of the main reasons for the choice as the venue, namely the perception as a country not involved in the Cold War and committed to peace. The white dove of peace, the design of which was found in a competition and was designed by the Mexican cartoonist Abel Quezada , was used in almost all official posters, banners and promotional material. The official motto “Todo es posible en la paz” (Everything is possible in peace) also took up this topic. It referred to the sentence "El respecto al derecho ajeno es la paz" (respect for the rights of others in peace) by former President Benito Juárez , who justified the country's non-interventionism.

The organizers of the Olympic Games asked each team to bring a contemporary and an old work of art to Mexico, which resulted in a cross-section of past and contemporary art. Mexico itself presented its cultural history in the context of choreographies and events in front of an international audience. By presenting traditional art forms as fundamentally different from contemporary cultural production, the Culture Olympiad contributed to strengthening Mexico's image as a modern country. Dancers from different regions of the country came to Mexico City to show their traditional dances, complemented by dance groups from the participating nations. The contextualization of tradition in a modern presentation is also reflected in the celebrations for Columbus Day , on which the meeting of the old and the new world was celebrated. In addition, the Olympic flame was brought to Mexico City on Hernán Cortés ' route and was received in Teotihuacán with a 3000 dancer performance of the New Fire Ceremony, which took place in ancient Mexico every 52 years. In this context, the violence of conquest was ignored. The emphasis on modernity was also associated with the use of 1,700 hostesses, most of whom came from the rather white middle and upper classes and embodied the image of modern, self-confident women who were set against the widespread machismo . The emphasis on women in the image of the Games was also expressed in the fact that the Olympic flame was lit by a woman.

Logo and visual appearance

The Olympic Games logo.

In its psychedelic OP art design, the logo of the 1968 Olympic Games made reference to the pre-Columbian Indian culture of Mexico and thus also picked up on the country's cosmopolitan claim. The reference to the type of surgery should also convey dynamism and a modern feeling. The lettering "MEXICO 68", based on the geometric shapes of the Huichol Indios , was designed by the American Lance Wyman and the British Peter Murdoch . The two graphic designers took part in the competition at the invitation of the head of the graphics department of the 1968 Olympic Games, Eduardo Terrazas . The logo was omnipresent in Mexico City. Even the uniforms of the Olympic hostesses were designed with him. The reference to the Mexican tradition continued in other symbols. The Aztec calendar from the Anthropological Museum was used as the emblem of the 1968 Games.

The Olympic Games were visually very present in the cityscape. Large pink, yellow, and blue banners showing doves of peace were scattered along the thoroughfares. Across the entire city area, billboards showed photographs of physical or artistic activities related to the games, in the corners of which the pigeon could also be seen as a recurring motif. There were also posters designed by children and the motto “Everything is possible in peace” in different languages ​​on colorful posters. Large areas around the Olympic Stadium were painted with large colored circles that took up the design of the logo. In the center of the blue and white circles was the sculpture "El Sol Rojo" (Red Sun) by Alexander Calder . The “Route of Friendship” stretched across the south of Mexico City, along which abstract, colorfully painted sculptures by international artists were set up.

Torch relay

The Olympic torch was decorated with the doves of peace that were a symbol of these games.

The Olympic torch , which was made of white metal and weighed 780 grams, came in two versions. The black version was 52.3, the silver 53 centimeters high. It was worn by 2,778 runners over the total distance of 13,536 kilometers.

The Olympic flame was lit on August 23, 1968 in Olympia , Greece . It reached Athens via Pyrgos , Amalias , Patras , Egio , Xylokastro , Kiato , Corinth , Megara and Elefsina , where on August 24th it was brought on board the “HH Navarino” of the Greek Navy. The fire reached Genoa by sea , where a memorial service was held on August 27 in the birthplace of Christopher Columbus . The Olympic flame was then brought to Barcelona on the Italian training ship “Palinuro” . The torch relay in Spain covered 1,286 kilometers and led via Lleida , Saragossa , Madrid , Toledo , Navalmoral de la Mata , Trujillo , Melida and Seville to Puerto de Palos , where the fire hit on September 12th. With the "Princesa" it was then transported on Columbus' route to Mexico. On September 14th it reached Las Palmas , then San Sebastián on La Gomera and on September 29th San Salvador , where it was transported by a 17-person swimming team. On October 6th, the Olympic flame finally reached Veracruz .

In Mexico, the torch relay covered 855 kilometers. It led from the port city via Xalapa , Córdoba , Puebla , Tlaxcala , Llano Grande, Los Reyes de Salgado , Texcoco , Chiconcoac , Tizayuka , Tequistlán , Tepexpan , Acolman and Acatlongo to the ruined city ​​of Teotihuacán , where it was at 7 p.m. on October 11th Reached the moon pyramid. On October 12th, the day of the opening ceremony, two torches were lit there. With one the Olympic flame arrived in Mexico City, with the other the fire was brought to Acapulco , the venue of the sailing competitions, where it was transported by water skiers, among others.


Number of athletes

112 nations took part in the 1968 Olympic Games, sending 5510 athletes, 781 of whom were women. This set a new record for participants. In addition, more than 100 nations took part in the Olympic Games for the first time.

The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic took part as independent teams for the first time, which was to remain so until the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988. It was not until 1992 that the reunified Germany took on a team again. The US Virgin Islands , Barbados , British Honduras , the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Congo-Kinshasa, El Salvador , Guinea , Honduras , Kuwait , Nicaragua , Paraguay , Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic made their Olympic debut . After Singapore had participated in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 as part of the Malaysian team, it now competed independently again.

Europe (3,023 athletes from 32 nations)
America (1,546 athletes from 32 nations)
Asia (519 athletes from 21 nations)
Africa (287 athletes from 24 nations)
Oceania (181 athletes from 3 nations)
(Number of athletes) * Participation in summer games for the first time


Opening ceremony

“Mexico 68” on the scoreboard during the opening ceremony.
Entry of the Tunisian team.

The opening ceremony of the 1968 Olympic Games took place at noon on October 12, 1968. It began with the reception of President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz in the stadium with a 21 gun salute and the Mexican anthem . Four helium balloons carried the Olympic rings into the sky. This brief prelude was followed by the invasion of the 119 participating nations, while a band of 300 musicians played. Traditionally, the Greek team marched in first, with Mexico ending. When the more than 7,000 athletes and officials were inside the stadium, the President of the Organizing Committee Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and the IOC President Avery Brundage gave their welcoming speeches. Shortly after 12 noon, the Mexican President opened the Games with the words: "I declare inaugurated the Mexico City Games, which celebrate the Nineteenth Olympiad of the modern era." Following this official opening, an Olympic flag was hoisted. Six Mexican cadets and six Japanese girls carried the flag, which has been in use since 1920, to the sound of the Japanese song " Sakura " and presented it to the mayor of Tokyo, who then presented it to his counterpart from Mexico City. At that moment, 40,000 balloons were launched into the sky.

The Olympic flame arriving from Teotihuacan, 50 kilometers away, was welcomed with Indian instruments such as drums, flutes and the sound of a large snail shell . It was carried into the stadium by the young Mexican sportswoman Enriqueta Basilio . She was the first woman in history to light the Olympic flame. She climbed 90 steps to the highest point of the stadium, presented the torch and saluted in the four directions, then lit the fire in a large cauldron. Then Pablo Garrido took the Olympic oath. After it ended, 10,000 peace doves were released into the air. The words "We offer and desire friendship with all the peoples of the world" appeared on the large results board and at the end the national anthem was played again. Since the organizer feared attacks by the students who were still occupying the nearby university library, the marching teams gathered in the adjacent square under the protection of tanks and in the stadium on the side facing the university library hundreds of armed paratroopers were in full gear.

Closing ceremony

At the end of the event, the words "Mexico 68" disappeared from the results board and "Munich 72" appeared instead.

The closing ceremony of the Olympic Games took place on the evening of October 27th after the last competition, show jumping, which had been held in the Olympic Stadium. At the beginning, President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz was greeted with 21 gun salutes. Then the 113 flag bearers marched into the stadium, followed by six representatives from each of the participating teams. Only Mexico as hosts moved in with the whole team. The athletes gathered in the center of the stadium when IOC President Brundage declared the Mexico City Games over and invited the world's youth to Munich for the 1972 Olympic Games . The Olympic flag was then lowered and carried out by Mexican cadets. The stadium lighting had been extinguished so that only the Olympic flame provided light. Then it slowly went out. The words “Mexico 68” disappeared from the results board and “Munich 72” appeared instead, and then at the end of the celebration there was a large, 15-minute fireworks display. During this time, the final chorus from Beethoven's ninth symphony was played as a reference to the next Olympic Games in Germany, and 1000 mariachi then performed . The flag bearers took one final lap on the running track and then left the stadium, ending the event.

Competition program

The program of the Olympic Games was discussed by the IOC at the 1963 session in Baden-Baden. It was decided which of the 18 sports should be represented in the program. It turned out that only swimming and athletics were undisputed. The members voted against staying in the program with 25 for volleyball, 32 for archery, 33 for handball and 37 for judo. Because water polo, which received 12 votes against but was counted individually instead of as part of the swimming competitions, volleyball was ultimately allowed to remain in the program for the 1968 Olympic Games.

172 competitions (115 for men, 39 for women and 18 open competitions) in 18 sports / 24 disciplines were held. That was 9 more competitions but one sport / discipline less than in Tokyo in 1964 . The biggest change in the program was the expansion of swimming competitions, which was primarily in the interests of the United States. The judo competitions held in Tokyo for the first time have been canceled.

A total of 3,792,344 spectators followed the competitions and ceremonies. Athletics was the most popular with 1,674,795 spectators, followed by swimming with a total of 474,569 spectators. The changes to the previous summer games are detailed below:

  • When boxing weight class light flyweight was added.
  • Judo was absent from Mexico City in 1968 after the Olympic premiere in Tokyo in 1964.
  • When shooting , the men's classes trap, small-bore rifle three-position combat, rapid-fire pistol, free rifle three-position fight 300 m, small-bore rifle lying, 50 m and free pistol 50 m were converted into open classes - the open class Skeet was also added.
  • In swimming , the program for men and women was expanded to include 200 m freestyle, 100 m chest and 200 m medley - for men the 100 m back and 100 m butterfly were added - for women the 800 m freestyle, 200 m back and 200 m butterfly .

Olympic Sports / Disciplines 1968

Number of competitions in brackets

Time schedule

Time schedule
discipline Sat.
Olympic rings without rims.svg Opening ceremony 61.122
Basketball pictogram.svg basketball 1 1 128,890
Boxing pictogram.svg Boxing 11 11 165.220
Fencing pictogram.svg fencing 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8th 24,539
Football pictogram.svg Soccer 1 1 445,662
Weightlifting pictogram.svg Weightlifting 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7th 20,796
Field hockey pictogram.svg hockey 1 1 51,971
Canoeing (flatwater) pictogram.svg canoe 7th 7th 7524
Athletics pictogram.svg athletics 1 5 4th 6th 6th 5 2 7th 36 1,674,795
Modern pentathlon pictogram.svg Modern pentathlon 2 2 5,463
Cycling Cycling (track) pictogram.svg train   1 1 1 2 5 not specified
Cycling (road) pictogram.svg Street 1 1 2
Equestrian sport Equestrian Dressage pictogram.svg dressage 1 1 2 306.712
Equestrian Jumping pictogram.svg Leap 1 1 2
Equestrian Eventing pictogram.svg versatility 2 2
Wrestling Wrestling Freestyle pictogram.svg Freestyle 8th 8th 57,428
Wrestling pictogram.svg Greco-Roman 8th 8th
Rowing pictogram.svg rowing 7th 7th 42,535
Shooting pictogram.svg shoot 1 2 1 1 2 7th 5079
Swimming Swimming pictogram.svg swim 2 4th 3 3 3 4th 4th 3 3 29 474,569
Water polo pictogram.svg Water polo 1 1
Diving pictogram.svg Diving 1 1 1 1 4th
Sailing pictogram.svg sailing 5 5 7118
Gymnastics (artistic) pictogram.svg do gymnastics 2 2 4th 6th 14th 102.364
Volleyball (indoor) pictogram.svg volleyball 2 2 150,620
Olympic rings without rims.svg Closing ceremony 60.007
Demonstration competitions
Pelota 1 1 1 2
tennis 1 2 2
decisions 2 6th 6th 8th 13 8th 17th 22nd 13 5 10 10 18th 33 1 172

Color legend

  • Opening ceremony
  • Competition day (no decisions)
  • Competition day (x decisions)
  • Closing ceremony
  • Competitions


    As in Tokyo, 16 teams took part in the Olympic basketball tournament in two groups. After positioning in the group phase, the semi-final groups were formed, from which the two winners and the two losers played for the places in the final round. Of the first eight teams from Tokyo, USA, USSR, Brazil, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland and Uruguay, Czechoslovakia and Uruguay decided not to participate. The other participants were Bulgaria and Spain for Europe, Puerto Rico, Panama and Cuba for America, Morocco and Senegal for Africa, Korea and the Philippines for Asia and Mexico as the host country. For the first time since basketball's Olympic debut in 1936, the United States were not the favorites up front. The favored teams came from the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

    In group 1, the USA was able to place itself before Yugoslavia, while in group two the Soviet Union took place before Brazil. In the semi-final group, the USA could clearly prevail against Brazil. The game between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, however, was open until the end. It was only in the last few seconds that Vladimir Svetković decided the game 63:62 for Yugoslavia with two free throws converted. In the final, the underdogs from the USA won 65:50. The first half ended just under 32:29, but after the start of the second half the USA were able to break away with 17 points in a row. The seventh successive success at the Olympics, without losing a game, was mainly based on the tactics of Henry Iba , who relied on a quickly organized defense, which mainly pushed the attacking team outward. Bronze went to the team from the Soviet Union, which clearly won the game for third place. Mexico reached fifth place.


    In Mexico City, boxing medals were awarded in eleven weight classes. The light flyweight was Olympic for the first time. 315 boxers from 65 nations competed in a total of 301 fights. The five judges for a match were drawn from a group of 39 judges. Since there were very few knockout victories, the judges' judgments decided most of the fights. Overall, boxers from 21 countries were able to reach the semifinals and thus the medals, as two bronze medals per weight class were awarded to the underdogs in the semifinals. The Soviet Union was able to defend its leading role in this sport and, like in Tokyo, record three Olympic victories and several other medals. Poland, whose boxers also won three gold medals in previous games, could not hold this position. Only Jerzy Kulej was able to repeat his Olympic victory in the light welterweight division and thus won the only Polish boxing gold in Mexico. Boris Lagutin from the USSR also defended his title in the light middleweight division . For the host country, boxing was the most successful sport at these games. The boxers won four of the nine medals. In the flyweight division Ricardo Delgado won gold, in the featherweight division Antonio Roldán succeeded . There were also two bronze medals. In the welterweight division, Manfred Wolke from the GDR won his final against the Cameroonian Joseph Bessala and became Olympic champion.


    In fencing there were three individual and team competitions for men, and one individual and one team competition for women. The battles were fought on five hits or lasted six minutes. The teams consisted of five fencers, but only four of them could be used per battle. A total of 220 men and 58 women from 35 countries competed. In the men's foil singles, Ion Drîmbă was able to win the first gold for Romania in this discipline after falling in a simultaneous attack against the silver winner from Tokyo, Jean Magnan from France, in the semi-finals . In the saber , the Pole Jerzy Pawłowski also won gold for his country for the first time. In addition, the series of nine Hungarian Olympic victories in a row in this discipline came to an end. For men, all medals went to Europe, for women, the Mexican Pilar Roldán won silver, the only non-European medal in these fencing games and Mexico's first fencing medal at the Olympics.


    In the run-up to the Olympic football tournament , there were discussions about the prerequisites for participation due to the incidents about the non-admission of the Italian team in 1964. IOC President Avery Brundage was in favor of keeping football in the Olympic program, but asked FIFA to make improvements. This suggested to the IOC session in Rome in 1966 to introduce an independent amateur committee as in the cycling federation. However, this proposal did not go far enough for the IOC. Ultimately, only players who had neither accepted official payments nor participated in a World Cup finals were allowed to participate. 16 teams took part in the tournament. Europe was represented by Bulgaria, Spain, France, Czechoslovakia and the 1964 Olympic champion Hungary. El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico participated from North and Central America, and from South America Brazil and Colombia. Asia was represented with Japan, Thailand and Israel, Africa with Guinea, Nigeria and Morocco. After Morocco stated that they did not want to play against Israel, the Ghana team were invited to the tournament instead. Hungary had to do without the players who took part in the 1966 World Cup. Zoltán Varga also fled in Mexico . Nevertheless, Hungary managed to fight their way through to the final and won 4-1 against Bulgaria, which had lost three players to being sent off within two minutes. The Bulgarians prevailed against the GDR team in qualifying for the Olympics. In the bronze medal match, Japan beat Mexico 2-0.


    In weightlifting , there were decisions in seven weight classes. A three-way battle of pushing, tearing and pushing was required of the athletes. Each NOK could register a total of seven weightlifters, but no more than two of them were allowed to compete in one weight class. Mexico City set 18 Olympic records and 4 world records. In the bantamweight category, the Iranian Mohammad Nassiri was able to set two Olympic records and one world record. In featherweight, the Japanese Yoshinobu Miyake repeated his Olympic victory in 1964, while his twin brother Yoshiyuki Miyake won bronze . Poland's Waldemar Baszanowski also managed to defend his Olympic victory in Tokyo in a lightweight, breaking two of his own records. Leonid Schabotinski prevailed in the heavyweight division and won his second gold medal.


    The places for the Olympic hockey tournament were awarded at a world tournament in London in 1967. Pakistan, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, Japan, France, Spain, the GDR and Australia qualified there. There were also the teams from Kenya for Africa, Argentina for South America, Malaysia for Asia and Mexico as the host nation. The teams played in two groups, with the first two teams advancing to the semi-finals. The remaining placements were played out between the equally ranked teams of both groups. The performance of the referees was heavily criticized. The International Hockey Federation had even nominated referees over 60 years despite the altitude conditions and heat that could not keep up sometimes. In response, the association introduced an age limit of 55 years after the Games.

    Before the tournament, India was favored. In a turbulent tournament, the record Olympic champion could not even qualify for the final for the first time in 40 years. In this, Pakistan defeated Australia 2-1 and won Olympic gold for the second time after the 1960 Olympic Games . India won bronze in the game for third place against the Federal Republic of Germany. In the course of the tournament, Japan had not finished a game because of the protest against a wrong decision. With the game between the Netherlands and Spain, which lasted 144 minutes, one of the longest hockey games took place at these Olympic Games.


    In canoe racing, five competitions were held for men and two for women. At its congress in Berlin in 1966, the International Canoe Association proposed that the IOC also hold canoe slalom competitions . However, this proposal was only discussed at the IOC session in Mexico City and accepted there. The competitions were held on the newly created Cuemanco rowing and canoeing canal, which was the most modern racetrack at the Olympic Games until then. 183 athletes from 27 nations took part. The Soviet canoeists, who had been most successful in Tokyo with three Olympic victories, won two gold medals in Mexico City. They also achieved a medal in six of the seven competitions. As the most successful nation, however, this time Hungary prevailed with three Olympic victories. Compared to Tokyo, where only one silver medal could be won, this was a great improvement. The Hungarian canoeists also managed to achieve a medal in six of the races. Overall, the Eastern Europeans dominated. In the men's two-man kayak , the Austrians Gerhard Seibold and Günther Pfaff won bronze behind the Soviet and Hungarian boats. The Norwegian victory in the four-seater kayak came as a surprise after not a single boat from Norway had entered the competitions four years earlier. The four canoeists, who competed together for the first time four months before the Mexico Games, narrowly prevailed in the Olympic final and thus received the gold medal. West German canoeists achieved gold in a two-person kayak with Roswitha Esser and Annemarie Zimmermann-Weber . In addition, with the second places of Renate Breuer in a single kayak and Detlef Lewe in a single canoe, there were two silver medals.


    Mohamed Gammoudi from Tunisia won the 5000 meters.

    In athletics , Mexico City's altitude had a particular impact. Some world records were set, such as in the long jump , which should not be reached again for a long time. Especially in the long distance disciplines, the runners from Kenya and Ethiopia were able to show their strengths and win nine medals over distances of 1500 meters up to the marathon. The duel in the 1,500 meter run between the American world record holder Jim Ryun and the Kenyan Kipchoge Keino , who started with gallstones, was particularly explosive . No one was able to prevail in the end. He also started over the 5000 and 10,000 meters, but where his symptoms had a stronger effect. There were eleven different leaders on the first eight of the ten kilometers, with the non-African and lowland riders pushing their limits. Naftali Temu from Kenya won the race ahead of Ethiopian Mamo Wolde and Tunisian Mohamed Gammoudi . The Australian Ron Clarke , who held the world record over this distance, tried to keep up the pace, which was two minutes above his record, but only reached the finish in sixth place and needed oxygen, as he almost passed out and motionless even 20 minutes after crossing the finish line Ground lay. In Mexico City for the first time only black athletes reached the final of the 100 meters, won by Jim Hines from the USA, ahead of Lennox Miller from Jamaica and Charles Greene from the USA. Four months before the Games, Hines ran under the ten-second mark for the first time with 9.9 s and ran to the gold medal at the Olympic Games with 9.95 s, which were automatically stopped. The American Tommie Smith won the race over the 200 meters , bronze went to his compatriot John Carlos . Both caused a sensation with their “ Black Power ” greeting at the award ceremony, whereupon the IOC asked the US NOK to send the athletes home, which happened on October 16. The later Olympic champion over the 400 meters, the American Lee Evans , first considered leaving with the two excluded, but then competed and won in a world record time ahead of his teammates Larry James and Ron Freeman . The 400 meter hurdles also showed how strong the influence of height was on performance. The first seven runners to cross the finish line undercut the Olympic record. The winner David Hemery from Great Britain set a new world record with 48.1 s and outclassed his competitors by almost a second over the German Gerhard Hennige and the British John Sherwood . Over 50 kilometers of walking, Christoph Höhne from the GDR won the gold medal ahead of the Hungarian Antal Kiss and the American Larry Young . Over the 20 kilometers, José Pedraza achieved silver for Mexico.

    In the long jump Bob Beamon jumped to gold and improved the world record by 55 centimeters with 8.90 m. This mark has not been surpassed for 23 years and still stands as an Olympic record. Silver went to the East German Klaus Beer , who with his width of 8.19 m had been clearly distanced. In the high jump , there was a technical revolution with a new style of jumping, the "Fosbury flop" by Olympic champion Dick Fosbury , who set an Olympic record with 2.24 m. In the pole vault won Bob Seagren from the USA m with 5.40. Silver went to Claus Schiprowski from the Federal Republic of Germany, bronze to Wolfgang Nordwig from the GDR, both of whom had also jumped 5.40 m, but had more failed attempts. In the discus throw , the American Al Oerter won his fourth Olympic gold medal in a row and, as before, with a new Olympic record (64.78 m). Lothar Milde won the silver medal for the GDR. With 8193 points, which meant an Olympic record, the American Bill Toomey won the decathlon . Behind him were the two West Germans Hans-Joachim Walde and Kurt Bendlin .

    Four world record runners competed in the women's final over 100 meters. The American Barbara Ferrell and the Polish Irena Szewińska improved the world record in the second round to 11.1 s. Wyomia Tyus was able to improve the record to 11.08 s in the final and was the first sprinter to repeat her Olympic victory. No man had succeeded in doing this before. Over the 200 meters, the Polish woman then secured the gold medal with a world record. In the race over the 400 meters, the 19-year-old Briton Lillian Board was the favorite. She led the race, but was intercepted at the finish line by the French Colette Besson . On the 800 meters, the Yugoslav favorite Vera Nikolić could not live up to the hopes placed in her from the political side. After less than one lap of the semi-finals, she had to give up the race. Madeline Manning won the final in 2: 00.9 minutes, setting an Olympic record.

    European women dominated the throwing disciplines. In the shot put, Margitta Gummel from the GDR won gold with a world record distance of 19.61 m ahead of her compatriot Marita Lange . The Romanian Lia Manoliu won the discus throw with an Olympic record. Liesel Westermann achieved silver with 57.76 m for the Federal Republic of Germany. Eva Janko from Austria took the bronze medal behind Angéla Németh from Hungary and the Romanian Mihaela Peneș . West German Ingrid Becker won the pentathlon . The Austrian Liese Prokop won silver, ahead of the Hungarian Annamária Tóth .

    Modern pentathlon

    In the modern pentathlon , there was an individual and a team competition for men, on five consecutive days in the order of riding, epee fencing, pistol shooting, swimming and cross-country running. The individual results were added up for the team evaluation. The individual competition was won by the Swede Björn Ferm with 4964 points ahead of András Balczó from Hungary with 4953 points and Pawel Lednjow from the USSR with 4795 points. Balczó, like his team-mate István Móna , was able to compete in the Olympics after missing the Tokyo Games due to a suspension due to customs offenses. Together they made a significant contribution to the team's gold. Bronze with the team was first awarded to the Swedes, but had to surrender it to France after Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall tested positive for alcohol on the day of the shooting discipline and thus became the first Olympic doping case.


    Under pressure from the IOC, the international cycling association UCI founded its own amateur association with the Fédération Internationale de Cyclisme Amateur in 1965 and spun off the professionals into their own professional association, both of which remained the UCI. In Mexico there were a total of seven competitions, five on the track and two road races. In the run-up, Italy, which had achieved three Olympic victories in Tokyo in 1964, was the favored nation together with France. In fact, only Pierfranco Vianelli could win gold in the road race . The 100-kilometer team time trial was surprisingly won by the Dutch ahead of Sweden and Italy. France dominated the track with four victories. In the 4,000-meter team pursuit, the West German team consisting of Udo Hempel , Karl-Heinz Henrichs , Jürgen Kißner and Karl Link won silver behind the team from Denmark and ahead of the Italian. The medal was only given to her during the 1969 Cyclo-cross World Championship in Magstadt , because the German team crossed the finish line first in the final, but was disqualified by the arbitration board due to an unauthorized push in the last round and was not even awarded the silver medal should be.

    horse riding

    The program consisted of an individual and a team competition in dressage , show jumping and eventing . As it had been four years earlier, the plane trip was stressful for the horses. In addition, there were the altitude conditions, which is why the horses needed an acclimatization period of three to four weeks. Jumping and dressage took place directly in Mexico City, the eventing competitions around 160 kilometers from the capital in Valle de Bravo . The dressage of eventing was dominated by the Soviet riders, after all three competitions the Frenchman Jean-Jacques Guyon prevailed. The British won the team standings ahead of the USA and Australia. In dressage, the German team repeated their Olympic victory in Tokyo with Liselott Linsenhoff , Reiner Klimke and Josef Neckermann . Neckermann and Klimke also won silver and bronze in the singles behind Iwan Kisimow from the USSR. American William Steinkraus won gold in show jumping . In the team competition in jumping, the German team consisting of Alwin Schockemöhle , Hermann Schridde and Hans Günter Winkler won the bronze medal. The victory went to Canada, silver to France.


    The rules of wrestling had been adjusted with the altitude of Mexico City in mind. The fight time was set to three times three minutes and the point system was changed. In freestyle wrestling and in Greco-Roman wrestling , medals were awarded in eight weight classes. The most successful nation was Japan with four Olympic victories, while the Soviet Union won the most medals with nine. In the freestyle Japanese won in the three lightest weight classes, with Yōjirō Uetake repeated his Olympic victory in Tokyo in bantamweight. This also succeeded Alexander Medved from the USSR in the heavyweight division. In the light heavyweight division, the Turk Ahmet Ayık , who had won silver four years earlier, won. In the Greco-Roman style, only the Hungarian István Kozma could defend his heavyweight title. In the featherweight division, the silver medalist of the previous games Roman Rurua from the USSR won his final. The wrestlers of the GDR recorded two Olympic victories: Rudolf Vesper won the welterweight division, Lothar Metz , bronze medalist from Tokyo, won the middleweight division. The only wrestler to win medals in both styles was Frenchman Daniel Robin with two silver welterweight medals.


    In rowing medals were awarded in seven boat classes. The regatta course was a newly built canal in Xochimilco . The most successful rowing nation was the GDR with two gold and one silver medal. In the two and four without a helmsman, the East German boats were able to celebrate the Olympic victory, in the four with a helmsman the GDR boat was second with a clear gap to New Zealand and Switzerland. The Federal Republic won the most prestigious boat class, the eighth. Horst Meyer , Dirk Schreyer , Rüdiger Henning , Wolfgang Hottenrott , Lutz Ulbricht , Egbert Hirschfelder , Jörg Siebert , Niko Ott and Gunther Tiersch broke the dominance of the Americans, who had won nine gold medals in this class at ten Olympic Games, but this time the Medal ranks not reached. In the single, Jochen Meißner won silver behind Jan Wienese from the Netherlands . This brought the dominance of the Soviet rowers, who had been the single Olympic champions since 1952, to an end in this boat class.


    There were seven shooting competitions on the program. Compared to Tokyo, Skeet was added as a new discipline. Although women did not receive their own competitions, they were allowed to compete in the general starting field, which three participants made use of. A total of 450 shooters from 66 countries took part. For the first time, all competitions were held in one place, as a modern shooting center had been built on a barracks site. In the small-caliber three-position battle, Bernd Klingner won the gold medal for the Federal Republic, with the free target pistol , the German Heinz Mertel won silver with the same number of rings as the Olympic champion, which also meant an Olympic record, ahead of the East German Harald Vollmar . Kurt Czekalla also took bronze in the trap for the GDR. In the skeet competition, which was held for the first time, the medals were only awarded in the jump-off, in which Konrad Wirnhier achieved bronze for the Federal Republic of Germany. The athletes of the USA could not build on their performance in Tokyo with seven medals, but only achieved three. However, the American Gary Anderson was the only shooter in a three-position fight with the free rifle who repeated his Olympic victory. Behind him with his Olympic record were a Soviet shooter and the Swiss Kurt Müller .


    The swimming competitions were dominated by the athletes from the United States. Of the 107 medals awarded, more than half went to the USA, whose swimmers won 23 gold, 15 silver and 20 bronze medals. The two titles on the freestyle sprint courses were won by Australian Michael Wenden . Over 100 meters he set a new world record with 52.22 seconds. On the 200-meter course, he prevailed against the favored American Don Schollander . The East German Roland Matthes won the two back legs . Felipe Muñoz caused euphoria among the hosts with his surprising victory over the 200 meter chest. Mark Spitz , four years later the dominant swimmer at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, won his first gold medals with the relays. However, he did not meet the expectations placed on him on the individual routes. He came to Mexico City as a world record holder on both butterfly distances, won only silver over the 100 meters and was only eighth over the 200 meters. Only in the 100 meters freestyle could he improve on his previous performances and win bronze.

    In diving , the two gold medals went to the United States from the board. The men's high diving was won by the Italian Klaus Dibiasi , who had already achieved silver from the board. The Mexican Álvaro Gaxiola placed silver with a clear gap. In the women's category , the Czechoslovakian Milena Duchková was the Olympic champion from the tower. In the men's category, Klaus Dibiasi won from the tower.

    In water polo , 15 teams competed in two groups and then a knockout phase. In the final, the team from Yugoslavia defeated the Soviet Union 13 to 11. In the game for third place, Hungary beat Italy 9: 4. The Hungarian team continued their streak of winning a medal since 1928. In a hard-fought game, Hungary only took off halfway through with six goals in a row. The other two medal winners had also won medals in previous games. The final stood at 11:11 at the end of regular time. In the four-minute extra time, Yugoslavia scored two goals and celebrated its first Olympic victory in water polo.


    In sailing , competitions were held in the same five boat classes as in Tokyo in 1964, with the 5.5-meter class being on the Olympic program for the last time. Seven races were held in each class, with the worst result counting as a discarded result. The point system had been changed for the Olympics. The venue for the competitions was Acapulco . A total of 247 sailors from 41 nations took part. The races began on Monday, October 14th, and a week later, on October 21st, the medals were awarded in an evening ceremony. The decisions about silver and bronze were very close in all boat classes, while the Olympic champions clearly prevailed.

    In the 5.5 class, the Sundelin brothers from Sweden won gold with 8 points, while silver went to the Swiss boat with 32 points, ahead of Great Britain with 39.8 points. Crown Prince Harald of Norway also took part in the races. In the Star class , the three-time world champion Lowell North won gold with 14.4 points together with Peter Barrett from the USA. The Norwegian and Italian boats in second and third place were separated by only one point. The gold medal in the kite also went to the USA. In the Finn dinghy , Hubert Raudaschl from Austria won the silver medal with 53.4 points, behind Valentin Mankin from the USSR with 11.7 points and ahead of the Italian Fabio Albarelli . In the Flying Dutchman , Rodney Pattison and Iain MacDonald-Smith from Great Britain won the gold medal with only 3 points after being disqualified in the first race. With 40.7 points more, Ullrich Libor and Peter Naumann won silver for the Federal Republic in front of the Brazilian boat.

    do gymnastics

    Karin Janz from the GDR won silver in the individual on the uneven bars and bronze with the team.

    In gymnastics, Věra Čáslavská won four gold and two silver medals for Czechoslovakia. Due to the dejected Prague Spring , she enjoyed the special sympathy of the audience. For her floor exercise, she also chose a Mexican dance as musical accompaniment, which sparked enthusiasm in the audience. She also married the middle-distance runner Josef Odložil in front of 10,000 people in the cathedral at the Zocalo . In terms of sport, she stood out because her four gold medals in the individual disciplines were a milestone in Olympic history. No Olympian had succeeded in doing this before. The gymnasts from the Soviet Union won the team competition before Czechoslovakia. Maritta Bauerschmidt , Karin Janz , Marianne Noack , Magdalena Schmidt , Ute Starke and Erika Zuchold won bronze for the GDR. Zuchold at the horse jump and Janz at the uneven bars also won individual silver. The Japanese gymnasts dominated the men. They won the team competition and also half of the 18 medals in the individual competitions. Akinori Nakayama won three gold and one silver medal. Mikhail Voronin from the USSR won two gold, two silver and one bronze medal. In the team competition, the GDR team with Günter Beier , Matthias Brehme , Gerhard Dietrich , Siegfried Fülle , Klaus Köste and Peter Weber won bronze behind Japan and the USSR.


    Volleyball was Olympic for the second time after the Tokyo Olympics. Ten teams started in the men's tournament and eight in the women's tournament. The qualification for the men's tournament took place at the 1966 World Cup in Prague, where Czechoslovakia, Romania, the Soviet Union, the GDR, Japan, Poland, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia prevailed. Romania later withdrew from participation. Then there were Brazil and the USA, which qualified at the Pan American Games in 1967 , and the host country Mexico. The qualification for the women's tournament did not go as planned because the World Cup in 1967 in Japan had been boycotted by the Eastern Bloc due to discriminatory conditions. Only Japan, the USA, South Korea and Peru competed there, who were also qualified for the Olympics. The field of participants was then completed by the first three of the European Championships in the Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia and Mexico. The tournament mode was everyone against everyone, with two points for a win and one point for a loss.

    In the men's tournament, the team from the Soviet Union was able to defend its Olympic victory, although it lost the world championship title between and before the games and had lost several times to the GDR. Before the game against the GDR, the team bus got stuck in traffic, but the opposing team decided not to get the two points without a fight and lost the game that started later with 2: 3. The Soviet team lost to the USA, which played no role in the fight for the title. The Japanese team won silver, while Czechoslovakia won bronze. The GDR team finished the tournament in fourth place. In the women's category, the Soviet Union won, winning all games, ahead of Japan and Poland. Mexico reached seventh and penultimate place ahead of the USA.

    Demonstration sports

    At the 1968 Olympic Games, tennis and pelota were played as demonstration sports. Tennis was the last Olympic sport in Paris in 1924 . 46 players from 15 countries competed in singles and doubles. The games took place on tennis courts in Mexico City and Guadalajara . Pelota was played in five versions in Mexico City and Acapulco . Seven teams took part in the two-week competitions. Overall, the teams from Mexico, Spain and France were able to prevail against those from Argentina, the USA, the Philippines and Uruguay.

    Outstanding athletes

    The most successful athlete at the 1968 Olympic Games was the Czechoslovak gymnast Věra Čáslavská , who won four gold and two silver medals. Behind her lay the Japanese Akinori Nakayama , who also competed in gymnastics, with four gold, one silver and one bronze medal. The Soviet gymnast Mikhail Voronin won the most medals, with two gold, four silver and one bronze medal. The youngest participant was the swimmer Liana Vicens from Puerto Rico with 11 years and 327 days, the oldest participant was the shooter Roberto Soundy from El Salvador with 68 years and 229 days.

    Most successful athlete at the 1968 Olympic Games
    athlete team Sports gold silver bronze total
    Věra Čáslavská CzechoslovakiaCzechoslovakia Czechoslovakia do gymnastics 4th 2 0 6th
    Akinori Nakayama Japan 1870Japan Japan do gymnastics 4th 1 1 6th
    Charles Hickcox United StatesUnited States United States swim 3 1 0 4th
    Sawao Kato Japan 1870Japan Japan do gymnastics 3 0 1 4th
    Debbie Meyer United StatesUnited States United States swim 3 0 0 3
    Mikhail Voronin Soviet Union 1955Soviet Union Soviet Union do gymnastics 2 4th 1 7th

    "Black Power" protest by Tommie Smith and John Carlos

    The international perception of the Olympic Games in Mexico City largely shaped the image of the protests of the two American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos and the controversy that followed, while in Mexico itself the protests in the run-up to the games tend to dominate memories. Smith had won gold over the 200 meters in a world record time while Carlos took bronze. The two used the award ceremony for their protest for human rights and against racial discrimination . Smith and Carlos walked to the podium barefoot to draw attention to the poverty of colored people who could not afford shoes in many parts of the world. Carlos also left his track jacket open as a reminder of the workers he believed were denied the credit they deserved. During the ceremony, the two each put on a black glove. During the American national anthem, they closed their eyes, bowed their heads, and held up their gloved hand in a fist in the air. The photo taken by John Dominis of this “ black power ” gesture became an icon of the civil rights movement and of the 1960s in general. In addition, at the Olympic Games in 1968 black athletes appeared more self-confident overall. Two Kenyan runners repeatedly said in an interview: "We are black, we are proud, we are strong."

    After Smith and Carlos protested , the International Olympic Committee presented the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) with the choice of withdrawing the entire athletics team from the Mexico City Games or sending only the two athletes back to the United States. The USOC opted for the latter, which added to the impact of the protest. The act of the two athletes has received controversy in the United States. While it gained recognition in the civil rights movement, there were also many negative votes. Racists threatened their families while they were excluded from the national squad and all funding was cut. With reference to this partially negative reception of the events, John Carlos also renounced his engagement for Barack Obama in his presidential election campaign in 2008. The “Black Power” protest at the 1968 Olympic Games became a benchmark for political commitment by athletes. It was discussed again in 2008 in the run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing , when athletes were banned from protesting and carrying protest slogans with reference to the rules of the IOC.


    At the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964, a medical commission set up by the IOC and headed by Arthur Porritt worked for the first time . In addition, the IOC had condemned the use of doping in the run-up to these games and threatened sanctions. At the 66th IOC session, which took place in Tehran in 1967, the IOC members decided that doping tests should be carried out at both the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble and the Olympic Games in Mexico City. It was based on a list of doping substances drawn up in 1966, which included alcohol , cocaine , opiates , cannabis , vasodilators , amphetamines and ephedrines . In addition, the IOC condemned anabolic steroids as doping agents, but at the time of the Olympic Games there were no tests to prove them.

    The effects of altitude on the organism increased the dangers emanating from doping, which is why sports medicine professionals increasingly turned to this topic. For example, more tests were carried out, which in around 1965 in the Belgian cycling league showed that 25 percent of Belgian riders and even 36 percent of foreign riders had been doped with amphetamines. During the Second International Sports Week in Mexico City in 1966, the UCI Medical Commission conducted research with the International Federation of Sports Medicine , which showed higher risks of doping at high altitudes and in intense heat.

    In Mexico City, in collaboration with the new chairman of the IOC Medical Commission, Prince de Mérode , the “Centrol Quimico” doping control laboratory was set up on the university campus. The President of the Mexican Federation for Sports Medicine, Gilberto Bolanos Cacho, and the later Mexican IOC member Eduardo Hay gave a lot of support to the introduction of the tests. After the number of doping offenders had dropped rapidly by the third International Sports Week, they almost completely disappeared for the Olympic Games. In 667 tests, only the Swedish modern pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall was found to have consumed alcohol before the shooting discipline, which is why the Swedish team was stripped of the bronze medal. However, it can be assumed that the actual number of doped athletes was significantly higher, which is due to the state doping system and the fact that anabolic steroids could not be detected at all.

    In 1968, gender controls were also carried out on female athletes for the first time to prevent hermaphrodites from participating in women's competitions. The IOC had already suggested this in 1964. In 1966 at the European Athletics Championships , the IAAF had such tests carried out for the first time, and in 1967 the IOC decided to use them for the Olympic Games. In Mexico City, most sports associations had doping and gender controls carried out centrally, only the swimming association completely refused to accept it.


    The press officer for the 1968 Olympic Games was Rafael Solana . A total of 2249 journalists were accredited, of whom 835 worked for the press and 385 for news agencies. 845 worked for television, this number also including technicians. The rights to the television broadcasts were sold for $ 9.75 million. The American broadcaster ABC paid 4.5 million of these alone. The television networks OTI for Latin America, Spain and Portugal and the EBU paid 2.5 million and one million respectively. The rights to Japan were also sold for one million dollars. All 23 sports facilities had their own press center, each with a photo laboratory, an interview zone and spaces for national and international journalists. A total of 237 TV and 390 radio stations were available at the sports facilities. In 1968 the Olympic Games were broadcast in color for the first time . As during the entire Cold War, the transmissions also had a political function. TV broadcasts of the Czechoslovak team's basketball victory over the USSR and Věra Čáslavská's successes had the effect of strengthening national self-confidence in Czechoslovakia after the crackdown on the Prague Spring . The Mexican swimmer and filmmaker Alberto Isaac shot the four-hour film documentary Olimpiada en México , which was nominated for an Oscar in 1970.


    • Volker Kluge : Summer Olympic Games. The Chronicle III. Mexico City 1968 - Los Angeles 1984. Sportverlag Berlin, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-328-00741-5 .
    • David Miller: The Official History of the Olympic Games and the IOC: Athens to London 1894–2012 . Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh 2012, ISBN 978-1-84596-611-9
    • Organizing Committee of the Games of the XIX Olympiad Mexico 1968: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee of the Games of the XIX Olympiad Mexico 1968, Volume 1: The Country . Mexico City 1968. Part 1 (PDF; 15.0 MB), Part 2 (PDF; 18.1 MB)
    • Organizing Committee of the Games of the XIX Olympiad Mexico 1968: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee of the Games of the XIX Olympiad Mexico 1968, Volume 2: The Organization . Mexico City 1968. Part 1 (PDF; 16.4 MB), Part 2 (PDF; 18.8 MB)
    • Organizing Committee of the Games of the XIX Olympiad Mexico 1968: The Official Report of the Organizing Committee of the Games of the XIX Olympiad Mexico 1968, Volume 3: The Games . Mexico City 1968. Part 1 (PDF; 25.6 MB), Part 2 (PDF; 11.5 MB)
    • Kevin B. Wamsley, Kevin Young: Global Olympics - Historical and Sociological Studies of the Modern Games . Elsevier, Amsterdam / London 2005, ISBN 978-0-7623-1181-1 .
    • Eric Zolov: Showcasing the 'Land of Tomorrow: Mexico and the 1968 Olympics. In: The Americas, Vol. 61, No. 2 (October 2004), pp. 159-188.

    Web links

    Commons : 1968 Summer Olympics  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

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    This article was added to the list of excellent articles on November 25, 2012 in this version .