In this fourth installment of the road to the Summer Olympics, we move to the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. The Mexico City, Mexico, Olympics were the first Olympic games to be held in a Latin American and a Spanish-speaking country. It was also the first Olympics that was broadcast in color television.
As in other Olympic Games, Mexico City saw several nations compete in the Games for the first time ever, including Barbados, British Honduras, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Guinea, Honduras, Kuwait, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, and Singapore. East and West Germany competed as independent countries rather than the union of the previous Olympics. South Africa was originally given the provision to compete however after threats of boycotting from other countries and their athletes over its apartheid government, the IOC felt it best they don’t compete. North Korea boycotted the 1968 games. For the United States, African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the playing of the national anthem, stirring controversy and causing both athletes to be banned from the Olympics for life. Yet, George Foreman winning the gold medal for heavyweight boxing against Soviet Ionas Cepulis showed an interesting dichotomy to the Smith-Carlos event. The United States won the most medals, with 45 golds and 107 medals total. The Soviet Union came in second place, winning 29 gold and 91 medals.
1968-Mo 25 Peso Olympic Type 2 KM-479.2, Mexico, PCGS MS66. Image courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.
For the 1968 Olympics, Mexico issued a single Olympic commemorative coin in the value of 25 pesos struck in .720 fine silver. The obverse of the coin features the Mexico coat of arms, an eagle with a snake in its mouth with the legend “ESTADOS UNIDOS MEXICANOS,” the denomination “25 PESOS,” a fineness listed as “LEY 0.720”, and mint mark “Mo.” The reverse features a pre-Colombian Aztec ball player above the Olympic rings. “JUEGOS DE LA XIX OLIMPIADA MEXICO 1968” runs around the reverse rim meaning “19th Olympic Games Mexico 1968.” The commemorative has a mintage of 27,182,000 coins and boasts three different varieties. The most common variety has the top three rings of the Olympic rings level with each other. The next variety has the center ring of the top three rings of the Olympic rings lower than the other two top rings. The third and scarcest variety is the low center ring with the obverse snake having a curved tongue. These coins can come well preserved with many grading MS66 and higher. The common varieties can be purchased for as little as a few dollars over the metal value.
Close up of rings on obverse of 1968-Mo 25 Peso Type 1. Center ring level with other two top rings. Click image to enlarge.
The 1968 Mexico City Olympics commemorative continues to be a popular coin for collectors with the Type 3, curved snake tongue, variety still a hard coin to find today. Another Olympics has yet to be held in a Spanish-speaking country in the Americas.