1980 Summer Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city (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

Overview

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 process

Bid voting at the 75th IOC Session in Vienna on 23 October 1974.

Round 1
Moscow Soviet Union 39
Los Angeles, California United States 20

Ceremonies

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 Aleksandr Medved (Wrestling)
Flagbearers Full list
Olympic Flag Bearers Unknown

Medal Disciplines

Archery Equestrian Dressage Rowing
Artistic Gymnastics Equestrian Eventing Sailing
Athletics Equestrian Jumping Shooting
Basketball Fencing Swimming
Boxing Football Volleyball
Canoe Sprint Handball Water Polo
Cycling Road Hockey Weightlifting
Cycling Track Judo Wrestling
Diving Modern Pentathlon

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Soviet Union URS 80 69 46 195
East Germany GDR 47 37 42 126
Bulgaria BUL 8 16 17 41
Cuba CUB 8 7 5 20
Italy ITA 8 3 4 15
Hungary HUN 7 10 15 32
Romania ROU 6 6 13 25
France FRA 6 5 3 14
Great Britain GBR 5 7 9 21
Poland POL 3 14 15 32
Sweden SWE 3 3 6 12
Finland FIN 3 1 4 8
Czechoslovakia TCH 2 3 9 14
Yugoslavia YUG 2 3 4 9
Australia AUS 2 2 5 9
Denmark DEN 2 1 2 5
Brazil BRA 2 0 2 4
Ethiopia ETH 2 0 2 4
Switzerland SUI 2 0 0 2
Spain ESP 1 3 2 6
Austria AUT 1 2 1 4
Greece GRE 1 0 2 3
Belgium BEL 1 0 0 1
India IND 1 0 0 1
Zimbabwe ZIM 1 0 0 1
Democratic People's Republic of Korea PRK 0 3 2 5
Mongolia MGL 0 2 2 4
United Republic of Tanzania TAN 0 2 0 2
Mexico MEX 0 1 3 4
Netherlands NED 0 1 2 3
Ireland IRL 0 1 1 2
Uganda UGA 0 1 0 1
Venezuela VEN 0 1 0 1
Jamaica JAM 0 0 3 3
Guyana GUY 0 0 1 1
Lebanon LBN 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Aleksandr Dityatin URS 3 4 1 8
Caren Metschuck GDR 3 1 0 4
Vladimir Parfenovich URS 3 0 0 3
Barbara Krause GDR 3 0 0 3
Rica Reinisch GDR 3 0 0 3
Vladimir Salnikov URS 3 0 0 3
Nikolay Andrianov URS 2 2 1 5
Ines Diers GDR 2 2 1 5
Nadia Comăneci ROU 2 2 0 4
Yelena Davydova CAN
URS
2 1 0 3
Aleksandr Tkachov URS 2 1 0 3
Sergey Koplyakov URS 2 1 0 3

All medalists at these Games