PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – February 23, 2018 – Fifty years since the Olympic Games in Mexico City, NBC Olympics will bring viewers back to that tumultuous and politically-charged year with a 90-minute documentary entitled 1968. Four-time Olympic gold medalist and 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams narrates the film, which makes its broadcast television debut Sunday, Feb. 25, at 4:10 p.m. ET on NBC.
“The connection between sports and social issues is as urgent and relevant today as it was in 1968,” said Jim Bell, President, NBC Olympics Production and Programming. “Those Games took place in a turbulent year, so it is fitting that they are as memorable for the protests as for the performances. The stories of what these athletes endured before, during, and after Mexico City are both inspiring, and heart-breaking. And we are honored to have Serena Williams as our guide for this extraordinary work.”
1968 was a transformative year in the U.S. and throughout the world. It was the deadliest year of the Vietnam War. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. Soviet troops crushed the Prague Spring. Protest movements raged in North America and Europe. In Mexico City, protests turned violent when government troops opened fire on demonstrators just 10 days before the Games.
Amidst that backdrop, the Mexico City Games became a stage for the collision of sport and politics. On the podium for the 200-meter medal ceremony, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised gloved fists in a statement against racial discrimination. While the iconic image of their silent gesture is universally celebrated half a century later, at the time, Smith and Carlos were dismissed from the team and sent home from Mexico City.
American athletes were not the only ones protesting in Mexico City. 1968 also tells the story of Czechoslovakian gymnast Vera Caslavska, who protested the Soviet invasion of her country by looking away as the Soviet national anthem played during her medal ceremonies. Like Smith and Carlos, Caslavska also faced criticism for speaking out, and struggled for years in the aftermath.
The Mexico City Games were also memorable for thrilling competition and remarkable performances. The U.S. Team topped the medal table, led by the greatest team in track and field history. Dick Fosbury changed the high jump forever with his revolutionary “Fosbury Flop,” and Bob Beamon broke the world record in the long jump by nearly two feet.
1968 also features interviews with NBA icon and cultural ambassador Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who protested the 1968 Games; heavyweight champion George Foreman, who took home a gold medal at the Games; civil rights activist Harry Edwards, who led the Olympic Project for Human Rights; as well as Emmy Award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw.
1968 will also air an NBCSN, Sunday, Feb. 25, as part of a three-hour documentary block beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET. 1968 will be available streaming on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming platforms for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs.
For a preview of 1968, click here.
ABOUT SERENA WILLIAMS
Serena Williams exemplifies courage, beauty, power and style, and has overcome insurmountable odds to win 23 career Grand Slams. Her remarkable tennis achievements combined with her off-court success in fashion and philanthropy, as well as a strategic partner and investor, makes her one of the most recognizable global icons in the world.
Overall, Serena has 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. She’s won 783 Professional singles matches, 185 doubles professional matches, 72 WTA singles titles, 23 WTA doubles titles, Gold Medal in Doubles in 2000 (Sydney), 2008 (Beijing), 2012 (London), and Gold Medal in Singles in 2012 (London).
Serena is a dedicated philanthropist. She started the Serena Williams Fund, is a global Goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, and in the fall of 2016, she joined philanthropic forces with her sister Venus to establish the Williams Sister Fund where they launched their first endeavor in their hometown of Compton: the Yetunde Price Resource Center. Named after their eldest sister who was killed by senseless gun violence, the Resource Center conducts community asset inventory and develops a comprehensive resource network designed to connect residents affected by violence with service providers. In February 2016, Serena partnered with the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation to build a school in Jamaica and has funded and opened two schools in Africa that are currently in operation.
ABOUT NBC OLYMPICS
A division of NBC Sports Group, NBC Olympics is responsible for producing, programming and promoting NBCUniversal’s Olympic Games coverage. It is renowned for its unsurpassed Olympic heritage, award-winning production, and ability to aggregate the largest audiences in U.S. television history. NBCUniversal owns the U.S. media rights on all platforms to all Olympic Games through 2032.
— PYEONGCHANG 2018 —