|Competition type||Olympic Games|
|Host city||Moskva, Soviet Union (Venues)|
|Opening ceremony||19 July|
|Closing ceremony||3 August|
|Competition dates||20 July – 3 August|
|OCOG||Organizing Committee of the Games of the XXII Olympiad|
|Participants||5259 from 80 countries|
|Medal events||203 in 26 disciplines|
In late December 1979, Soviet tanks invaded Afghanistan. On 26 July 1980, Volker Beck (GDR) won a gold medal in the 400 metre hurdles at the Moscow Olympics. Unrelated events? Hardly. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, United States’ President Jimmy Carter called for a boycott of the Moscow Olympics if the Soviets did not withdraw before 20 February 1980. They did not. Carter pressed his efforts, attempting to enlist other countries to join his boycott, but American allies Britain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, and Sweden all competed at Moscow.
Carter made his announcement public to the IOC via Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who rather rudely addressed the IOC at the Lake Placid Games in February. Many USA athletes protested the boycott, but Carter was adamant, threatening to withdraw US passports, and putting political pressure on many American businesses that supported the US Olympic Committee.
Approximately 63 countries eventually boycotted the Moscow Olympics – it is actually difficult to be precise because some nations stated that they would not compete, but that they were not boycotting. Notable among these were the United States, Canada, West Germany, Japan, China, Kenya, and Norway. Several countries that did not boycott protested at the Olympic Ceremonies. Ten countries elected not to march at the Opening Ceremony, while six other nations marched behind flags of their National Olympic Committees, or the Olympic Flag, rather than their national flag. Several countries chose not to have their national anthems played at Victory Ceremonies, substituting instead the Olympic Hymn. Finally, at the Closing Ceremony President Carter refused to allow the American flag to be raised as the host country of the next Olympics. The flag of Los Angeles was raised instead.
The Moscow Games were scheduled to be televised by NBC (National Broadcasting Company). Once the boycott took effect, NBC withdrew its cameras and its money, showing only short clips and daily summaries of the events. The loss of the American television money would have been a crippling blow for most Organizing Committees, but it had little effect on the Moscow committee.
The Games suffered in level of competition but they were marvelously run. The most awaited races matched two Brits in the 800 and 1,500 metres in the track and the boycott had no effect on them. Sebastian Coe was favored in the 800 and Steve Ovett in the 1,500. They each won a gold medal, but in the “other man’s” event.
The absolute prohibitive favorite in the men’s 400 metre hurdles on the track would have been Edwin Moses of the United States. In his absence, Volker Beck won what may constitute the most de-valued gold medal in Olympic history. Beck’s time was one that Moses would have only posted in an early round heat, while warming up for the final to come. Moses would return to win the gold in the event in 1984.
Bid voting at the 75th IOC Session in Vienna on 23 October 1974.
|Los Angeles, California||United States||20|
|Officially opened by||Leonid Brezhnev (President)|
|Torchbearer(s)||Sergey Belov (Lit flame)|
|Taker of the Athlete's Oath||Nikolay Andrianov|
|Taker of the Official's Oath||Aliaksandr Miadved|
|Olympic Flag Bearers||Unknown|
|Artistic Gymnastics||Equestrian Eventing||Sailing|
|Canoe Sprint||Handball||Water Polo|
|Democratic People's Republic of Korea||PRK||0||3||2||5|
|United Republic of Tanzania||TAN||0||2||0||2|
|Yelena Davydova|| CAN