Cold War rivalries split the Olympics in Moscow in 1980

Cold War rivalries split the Olympics in Moscow in 1980

File Pic: Participants of the team encourage up 3,500 playing cards to make an image of Misha, the mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. (AP Photo)

The Frosty Struggle made for many years of anxious Olympic battles between the US and the Soviet Union. In 1980 that rivalry ruin up the Olympics altogether.

US President Jimmy Carter, going thru re-election, pushed for the US to boycott the predominant Olympics held within the Soviet Union after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.

Because the Soviets won medal after medal in Moscow, US athletes got token medals at a White House reception. The boycott came goal months after the US had hosted the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, beating the Soviets 4-3 within the “Miracle on Ice” supreme.

Carter recruited boxing anecdote Muhammad Ali to criss-disagreeable Africa with an attraction to countries to enroll within the boycott. Of the 5 countries Ali visited, three competed in Moscow anyway.

The US, China, Canada, West Germany and plenty extra and diverse South The usa stayed house. Many European countries fudged the self-discipline, sending teams who took phase beneath the Olympic flag. Four years later, the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles as retaliation.

The Soviet warfare in Afghanistan rumbled on thru the 1980 Olympics. Boxers and wrestlers despatched by Afghanistan’s expert-Soviet authorities were held up as heroes by the Soviet media, which reported they’d defied threats of bodily hurt to compete. Some Afghan athletes had defected to Pakistan as a replace.

It changed into a showcase of ideology as mighty as wearing fulfillment. The predominant venue changed into Moscow’s Central Lenin Stadium, now higher is known as Luzhniki, which additionally held the soccer World Cup supreme in 2018. The Soviets and their allies held up wearing successes as a validation of their political programs.

Barely a decade later, the Soviet Union might perchance perchance perchance be a thing of the past because it fractured into 15 newly independent countries. To this showcase day, many older Russians have in mind the Olympics with pride as a time when their country proved it might perchance perchance actually perchance perchance host a prestigious world tournament, even with Western countries searching for to damage the celebration.

A expertise of Russian teenagers cherished Misha, the cuddly undergo mascot. His farewell on the closing ceremony, flying away clutching a bunch of balloons, changed into referenced within the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi when a brand new Russian undergo mascot shed a jog and blew out the Olympic flame.


With the US out of the image, the Frosty Struggle medal-table rivalry changed into long gone and Soviet athletes were head and shoulders above the remaining.

They done with 195 total medals, extra than any country at any Olympic Games sooner than or since, sooner than East Germany with 126. Britain’s 21 medals were essentially the most for any non-Communist country.

Swimmer Vladimir Salnikov churned up the pool with three gold medals and an world story, while gymnast Alexander Dityatin won a medal in eight events, an Olympic story matched simplest by US swimmer Michael Phelps in 2004 and 2008.

It changed into hard for atypical Soviet electorate to peep the Olympics, though. Accelerate to Moscow from diversified cities changed into restricted at some level of the Games and locals were warned to restrict social contact with other folks from non-Communist countries.

East Germany’s medal haul changed into big for a rustic of barely 16 million other folks. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Germany changed into reunified and the East’s big roar-lag doping program changed into revealed.


Heading into 1980, few had Scottish sprinter Allan Wells down as the favorite to purchase 100-meter gold. He did it anyway.

With the US team staying house it changed into a fight between Wells and Cuban runner Silvio Leonard. They began on opposite facets of the tune for the supreme; Leonard in lane one, Wells in lane eight.

They were neck-and-neck your total capacity down the tune and got identical occasions however Wells dipped marginally faster to steal the purchase on a photo enact. The Olympic anthem changed into played, no longer “God Build The Queen,” as Britain nodded to the boycott by competing with out national symbols.

To show his purchase wasn’t only a fluke of the boycott, Wells raced the leading US sprinters two weeks later at a meet in West Germany and beat them too.

A 2015 documentary by the BBC alleged that Wells had taken the banned steroid stanozolol at some level of his profession. He strongly denies doping.


The Moscow boycott establish 1976 fencing gold medalist Thomas Bach on a direction to turning into president of the World Olympic Committee, and shaped how he reacted to Russian doping decades later.

He urged West German Olympic officers to send a team at a convention in Can even goal 1980 however changed into outvoted. After being mentored in sports activities politics while working for Adidas, Bach joined the IOC and changed into elected president in 2013. Rower Anita DeFrantz sued the US Olympic Committee in her campaign towards the boycott and is now an IOC vice-president.

When standard doping in Russia changed into revealed, Bach and the IOC opted towards as a replace of Russia from the 2016 Olympics. Bach has cited his expertise of the boycotts when arguing towards banning any country, and to encourage up IOC suggestions preventing athletes making gestures of state.

“We must quiet be politically neutral on anecdote of otherwise we would exactly not sleep in this extra or much less divisive and boycott scenarios,” he acknowledged in January. The boycotts in Moscow and Los Angeles “introduced the Olympic Games on the level of death” and had “no discontinue in anyway” on countries’ foreign coverage, he added.


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