What becomes of an Olympic venue once the Games have ended? We take a look at Olympic sites from the 1968 Games, hosted by Mexico City, and the 2010 Games, hosted by Vancouver.
Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, hosted the Olympic Games in 1968. The selection of Mexico City was significant for a number of reasons: it was the first time the Games had been held in a Spanish-speaking country, the first time they had been held in Latin America, and the first time they had been held in what was considered a “developing” country.
Photo: Julie Schwietert Collazo
For a brief moment, it looked like the International Olympic Committee would cancel the Games, as a massacre of student and civilian protesters occurred just 10 days before the Games’ Opening Ceremony. The IOC decided not to cancel the Games; however, the world’s biggest sporting event was definitely politically charged that year and Mexican officials were relieved that the Games concluded without significant incidents.
Today, many of the venues that hosted athletic competitions during the 1968 Olympics remain active sporting sites for Mexican athletes, and are open to the public. Arena Mexico, not far from the city’s main square, the Zocalo, hosted wrestling matches in 1968 and continues to do so today. Popular lucha libre spectacles are held here regularly, drawing massive crowds eager to watch this beloved and uniquely Mexican sport in which masked and costumed wrestlers try to best one another.
Another Olympic venue you can visit for both a sense of the past and a dose of local culture is the Estadio Olimpico Universitario (University Olympic Stadium) at UNAM, Mexico’s largest and most prestigious university, located in the south of the city. The site of the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the 1968 Games, as well as many track and field events, today’s it’s the home field for the popular Pumas soccer team.
Vancouver was one of the most recent Olympic hosts, so it’s hardly a surprise that many of its venues are in excellent condition and are open to the public for recreational purposes. One of the most popular spots for locals in Vancouver is the Richmond Olympic Oval, which was the site for speed skating competitions in the 2010 Winter Olympics. After the Games, the entire complex was converted into a 23,000 square foot fitness and recreation center that’s open to the public on a membership basis. There’s a 31 route climbing wall, a paddling center, two Olympic size skating rinks, and dozens of courts for badminton, basketball, and volleyball. Don’t feel like working out? You can take a guided tour of the venue instead.
One of the most popular Olympic sites in Vancouver–and one of the most accessible, too– is the Olympic cauldron, which remains in its original location near the convention center. It’s ideal for a photo opp. Besides the Cauldron itself, the natural views here are spectacular, with the North Shore Mountains visible in the distance.
To learn more about other Olympic sites you can visit in North America, check out our feature article, “Destinations of Champions”.