Mexico City 1968: The world is watching
Every four years, the countries of the world gather to celebrate athletic achievement in an atmosphere of international cooperation. That is the goal of the Olympic Games, yet rare has been the Olympiad that is totally free of politics. Adolf Hitler used the Games as an Aryan showcase in 1936, and a string of politically motivated boycotts in the 1970s and '80s threatened to kill the Olympic movement. The Games rebounded, but in 2008 the spectre of boycott returned as protesters sought to use the Beijing Games as a political platform.
Jerome, who had won a bronze medal at the 1964 Games, agrees with the principle of fighting inequality. But the injection of politics into the medal ceremony has taken something away from other competitors in the race. The American Olympic Association should have sat down with the athletes before the Games and come up with a more appropriate display, says Jerome.
• Smith and Carlos were teammates at California's San Jose State College. They were stirred to action by a friend, sociologist Harry Edwards. He urged all black American athletes to boycott the Games as a protest against racial discrimination. Smith and Carlos decided to go, but planned to make the gesture if they won medals. In the same 200-metre race, Smith won gold while Carlos won bronze.
• The International Olympic Committee, which argued that politics would poison the Games, reacted with outrage to the pair's silent gesture. In response, the U.S. Olympic Committee evicted the pair from the Olympic Village. While Smith and Carlos are now widely regarded as heroes of the civil rights movement, they returned to mostly hostile reaction in the United States. Contrary to some reports, they were not, however, stripped of their medals.
• Harry Jerome was born in Prince Albert, Sask., on Nov. 30, 1940. He grew up in Vancouver. A natural in several sports, he attended the University of Oregon on a sports scholarship while competing internationally in track in field. During 1960 Olympic trials, he tied the world record of 10 seconds in the 100-metre sprint. His other records included tying the world 100-yard mark. He won a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics.
• During his short life, Jerome was also a teacher, Sports Canada official and humanitarian. He died from a brain aneurysm on Dec. 7, 1982, at age 42. The many honours for one of Canada's greatest athletes include the Order of Canada. His name graces annual awards for outstanding achievement by black Canadians, an international track meet in Vancouver and recreational facilities in British Columbia and Oregon.
• Smith became a college track and field coach. Carlos has also worked in education, including as head of discipline at a California high school. In 2001, Smith offered his 1968 gold medal for sale for $500,000 US, saying he had enjoyed looking at it but it might mean more to somebody else. It did not sell.
• CBC Television provided its first colour pictures of Olympic competition from Mexico City. The network aired about 30 hours of the Olympics, much of it live for the first time. CBC Radio broadcast five-minute hourly updates and occasional live reports. Telesistema Mexicana, Mexico's national broadcaster, did not have adequate resources to provide the world with pictures of all events, as NHK had done in Japan. A pool of international broadcasters was formed. CBC contributed eight colour cameras.
• In the Globe and Mail, writer Leslie Millin praised the cool demeanour of CBC Olympics co-host Lloyd Robertson in the face of many technical glitches including "strange breaks, noises, lapses and unscheduled fade-outs." Millin applauded Robertson, normally a newscaster, for "working with the grace and agility of a man hired to stamp grapes in a Sicilian winery."
• Three equestrians in the Prix des Nations event won Canada's only gold medal. American track star Bob Beamon provided the Games with its most electrifying moment. His long jump of 8.9 metres stunned the world because it shattered the previous record by an unbelievable 55 centimetres. When the feat was announced in imperial measure -- 29 feet, 2 ½ inches -- Beamon collapsed and cried with joy.
Program: 1968 Olympics
Broadcast Date: Oct. 16, 1968
Guest: Harry Jerome
Host: Lloyd Robertson
Last updated: August 19, 2013
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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