Controversy at the Olympics: 1980, 1984, and 1988

Controversy at the Olympics:
1980, 1984, and 1988
By: Ben Feinberg and Ben
1980 Summer Olympics:
- Held in Moscow, USSR from July 13 to August 3, 1980
- 67 nations, including US, did not participate
- 80 nations did participate, including six first-timers, the
lowest number since 1956
- The US led a boycott against these Olympics in response
to the Soviet's invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979
- 45-50 of the 67 no-shows were absent because of the
Misha the Bear
Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
- Soviets invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to stop Muslim
rebels from taking over the communist government
- The Muslim rebel groups, collectively known as the
Mujahideen, fought the Soviets to a stalemate using
guerilla tactics
- The United States supported the rebels by training them
in terrorist attacks
- Carter also took this matter to a political level
- Carter designed a series of measures to put pressure on
Soviets to withdraw, one of which was a possible Olympic
- The idea was first discussed on
December 20th, 1979 at a NATO meeting
- The idea gained popularity when Andrei Sakharov, a
Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner, called for a boycott
- Carter supported Sakharov and placed a deadline for
when the Soviets must withdraw from Afghanistan or else
there would be consequences
- The Soviets failed to act before the deadline, thus giving
the green light for the boycott
- Led by the US, many nations decided to boycott including
West Germany, the UK and Israel
- Goal was to pressure the Soviets to remove their armies
- Some nations who boycotted, such as the UK, did so in
name only, as they still sent athletes to compete under a
neutral flag
- American athletes were forbidden to participate in any
way, with the penalty being confiscation of their passports
- Most of the countries were uninterested and felt it was an
over dramatic response to a war they had nothing to do
Carters Announcement
Support of the Boycott in US
- Within the US there was much public support for the
boycott. It easily passed the Senate and House of
- Many people supported the idea of fighting the Soviets,
but felt sorry for the athletes who had trained so hard
- Ultimately, the final decision rested in the hands of the
United States Olympic Committee (USOC), who accepted
the boycott
- Liberty Bell Classic was put in place for boycotting nations
- USSR-Afghanistan war lasted for another ten years,
ending in 1989, meaning the boycott did not accomplish its
Athletes Perspectives
"I got my revenge. I became a Republican that year." - Don
"No, that's [medal ceremonies] not what I missed, It was walking
in the opening ceremony with all the athletes in the world. That
was more important. To put my arms out to everyone there and
say, 'Guys and girls, we made it.' " - Don Paige
"I think it should be left completely up to the athletes. The
athletes are the ones who’ve worked their asses off and I think it
should be left up to them whether they should go or shouldn’t
go." - Ron Tabb
Liberty Bell Classic
- Known as the Olympic Boycott Games.
- 29 countries participated.
- Was held in Philadelphia.
- Purpose: Gave athletes and countries something else to
look at; was an alternative to the Olympics.
- Support was low. People thought it was pointless.
1984 Summer Olympics: Los
- Held in Los Angeles
- Held from July 28th to August 12th, 1984
- 14 countries boycotted including USSR, East Germany
and other countries in the Eastern Bloc.
- 140 countries participated
- Boycott was a response to the US led boycott in 1980.
- Fun Fact: China's first Olympics since 1952
Money and the Olympics
- For the first time since 1932 the Olympics turned a profit
for the country hosting it. This was due to the Olympics
being open to sponsors for the first time. It allowed for a
225 million dollar profit.
- McDonalds ran a promotional game called "When The US
Wins, You Win" where customers scratched off a ticket and
if the US won that event then they would be given a free
menu item. The company lost millions of dollars when the
Soviet boycott let the US athletes fare better than they
otherwise would have.
- The Soviets claimed, "chauvinistic sentiments and an antiSoviet hysteria being whipped up in the United State" as
the reason for the boycott.
- Wanted to protect their athletes from what they called an
anti-communist environment
- Revenge for boycott of 1980 olympics.
- Resulted in US winning a previously unimaginable amount
of medals, 174, consisting of 83 gold medals, 61 silver
medals and 30 bronze medals.
Effects of the Boycott
- Caused feelings of unease in the US about relations with
the USSR
- Made it clear the Cold War was still happening.
- Led to the US spending billions on expanding the army in
an attempt to scare the Soviets.
- Mcdonalds lost a lot of money.
- Friendship Games
Friendship Games
- The Soviet response to the Liberty Bell Classic
- 49 countries participated
- Eastern Bloc countries sent superstars while other
countries sent athletes who did not qualify for the olympics.
- Soviet Union won 282 medals including 126 gold.
- Similar to the Liberty Bell Classic support was low; people
thought it was pointless.
1988 Summer Olympics: Seoul
General Overview
- Held from September 17th to October second.
- Held in Seoul, South Korea.
- North Korea held a boycott after not being considered a
partial host.
- Fun Fact: Last olympics for East Germany and USSR as
neither would exist under those names in 1992.
- North Korea wanted half the events to be played in North
Korea to show that Communist and Capitalist countries
could get along.
- The idea was proposed by Fidel Castro.
- South Korea rejected this idea due to its poor relationship
with communist countries.
- North Korea, Cuba and a few others boycotted.
Impact of the Boycott
- Strained relationship between US and North Korea that
we still see today.
- South Korea and North Korea continued their bad
relationship and made it seem less likely than ever that the
two could eventually have diplomatic relations.
- Overall, the boycott was not as big or as politically
affecting to the US as the 1980 or 1984 boycott, it did
contribute to the current problems with North Korea.
AIDS Scare
- Two time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis cut his
head when he hit his head on a diving board during one of
his jumps.
- The openly gay Louganis started to bleed and the water
was covered with blood.
- In 1995 he admitted to being HIV-positive during the 1988
- This caused mass hysteria and public criticism, where
people said he should have not been allowed to compete in
the Olympics.
- Scientists proved that it was impossible for anyone in the
water to be infected by the disease due to the chlorine.
- People started to categorize AIDS as the gay disease.
- AIDS was largely ignored in the US and Louganis and the
Olympic committee was heavily criticized.
Greg Louganis
^ Burns, John F. (May 9, 1984). "Protests are Issue: Russians Charge 'Gross
Flouting' of the Ideals of the Competition". New York Times