The high altitude of Mexico City made life uncomfortable for the distance runners, but elsewhere records crashed.
Bob Beamon's long jump record stood for more than 20 years
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Mexico City hosted the football World Cup two years later
Political issues dominated. South Africa were absent after the majority of black African nations threatened to boycott the Games if they were invited.
The medal ceremony for the 200m saw US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their black-gloved fists in a symbol of the black-power movement.
The team's management banned the two athletes and they were sent home.
A total of 34 world and 38 Olympic records were set, with the most outstanding being the new mark set by American Bob Beamon in the long jump.
He beat the previous record by a massive 55cm as he leapt 8.90m.
American high jumper Dick Fosbury won gold with his 'flop' style that was to revolutionise the event and replace the conventional straddle technique.
The triple jump saw the previous Olympic record beaten by seven competitors and the world mark improved on five occasions.