‘The exact route to achieving success’: Statecraft and the management of Third World expectations during the XIX Olympiad in Mexico
From 1940 onwards, Mexico experienced economic growth for more than three decades. The Mexican government sought to communicate this so called ‘Mexican Miracle’ and placed its bid for the XIX Olympic Games in December 1962 as part of its cultural diplomacy strategies. Ten months later, and just a month away from the inauguration of the Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO), Mexico City was elected as host of the 1968 Summer Olympic Games. If compared to Detroit and Lyon, Mexico City was not as economically developed, so the reasons that explain Mexico’s selection need a more complex approach. By looking at Mexico’s participation in the GANEFO and the Olympic Games, this article draws conclusions on how the Mexican government used sport to brand itself as a nearly developed country without losing its ties with the ‘Emerging Forces.’ This research uses documents from the archive of the International Olympic Committee and from different governmental archives in Mexico to assess the ways in which Mexico tried to position itself internationally. The article concludes that the bidding campaigns of 1963 had an impact on the way the IOC, Mexican government and Mexico City’s citizenry engaged politically during the Olympic Games.