The history of the countries of Epcot is much longer than the 1.25 miles it takes to walk World Showcase. This is a special place – the only place one can walk from Mexico to Canada in 20 minutes, with a stop in Germany in-between.
Today, we being our look at a small piece of the Epcot unions rich Olympic history. We’ll start with the first country on the left – Mexico
It was the Paris games in 1900 that Mexico’s first Olympians walked proudly under their flag. Since 1924, our neighbors to the South have competed in every Summer games and have collected 57 medals. 12 of them Gold. Despite having competed in a number of Winter games, Mexico remains without hardware in the colder Olympics.
The I.O.C. awarded the games of the 19 Olympiad to Mexico. These games would mark many firsts, and begin a new outlook on what the Olympics should represent. The 1968 Summer games would be the first in Latin America. Maybe more importantly, Mexico became the first Spanish-speaking and first developing host country.
It was Mexico City’s Olympic Stadium that played host to one of the most poignant and controversial moments in Olympic history. After being award medals in the 200-metre race, African-American sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos took to the podium wearing black socks – representing black poverty – and leather gloves. As the Star Spangled banner played to the world, the two American runners raised their gloved hands and bowed their heads, resulting in one of the most powerful and recognizable images in Olympic history.
It was deemed a domestic political statement, and thought of as unfit for the international stage of the Olympics. Carlos and Smith were forced out of the games, and barred from competing in future Olympics. In the race that earned them the right to stand on the podium, Tommy Jones has set a World Record.
Even in the face of controversy, the Mexico City games were wildly touted as a success. Mexico had demonstrated that wealth was not a defining principle when selecting a host city. Indeed, they had opened the door for developing countries who dreamt of hosting future international events.
Mexico sent 102 athletes to London. As of this writing, they’ve medals twice, both silver.