1984 Summer Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city (Venues)
Opening ceremony 28 July
Closing ceremony 12 August
Competition dates 6 July – 12 August
OCOG Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee
Participants 6798 from 140 countries
Medal events 221 in 28 disciplines
Other events 7 in 4 disciplines

Overview

After 52 years, the Summer Olympic returned to the United States in 1984, and once again, the Games came to Los Angeles. Looking for respite after the previous three difficult Olympics, the IOC would not find it in Los Angeles.

In May 1984, the Soviet Union announced that it would not attend the Olympics in Los Angeles, citing concerns over the safety of its athletes because of the “anti-Soviet and anti-Communist activities” in the Los Angeles area. Most of the Eastern European countries joined in the Soviet-bloc boycott, notably East Germany (GDR), and they were joined by Cuba. Although only 14 invited countries did not compete in Los Angeles, the absence of the USSR, Cuba, and the GDR made many of the events less than what had been anticipated.

Still, more countries and athletes competed at Los Angeles than in any previous Olympics. However, what the 1984 boycott lacked in numbers relative to the 1980 boycott, it made up for it in its impact on the competition. Boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, gymnastics, and track & field would have been dominated by the boycotting nations. The nations which did not compete were: Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Laos, Mongolia, North Korea, Poland, South Yemen, Vietnam, and the USS.R. Bravely, Romania defied the boycott and competed at the Olympics, receiving an ovation at the Opening Ceremony second only to that of the host country. Yugoslavia was the only other country from Eastern Europe to compete.

After all that, the Olympics were very well run, although the Europeans had numerous complaints, mostly about customary American methods of doing business. American television concentrated on USA athletes, which infuriated the Europeans. Notably, decathlon champion Daley Thompson (GBR) appeared at the Closing Ceremony wearing a T-shirt saying “Thanks, America, for a great Games”, on the front, and “But what about the television coverage?” on the back.

For the first time ever, the Games were managed in an entrepreneurial fashion. Organizing Committee President Peter Ueberroth insisted that the Olympics be designed to break even or even provide a surplus, but many Europeans rebelled against this philosophy. Ueberroth was determined not to have another white elephant like Montréal and he succeeded admirably in that regard. So admirably, in fact, that when the final tally came in, the organizing committee had a surplus of over $220 million dollars. It should be pointed out, however, that Ueberroth’s marketing methods have since been copied by all Organizing Committees and even the IOC itself with the TOP Program.

Much of the profit was given to the US Olympic Committee, some to support youth sports programs in Los Angeles and the USA, and some was given back to the participating nations to help pay their expenses for participating.

As to the sports themselves, the competition was good, though diluted in many ways because of the boycott. Carl Lewis emerged as the American men’s star, equalling Jesse Owens’ 1936 feat of winning four gold medals in track & field. But Lewis did not have Owens’ appeal to the American public and his image, almost obsequiously nurtured by his manager, failed to live up to his deeds on the track.

Failing Lewis, the American public reached instead to Mary Lou Retton, an American gymnast who won the all-around individual gold for the first time in history. To win she needed a perfect ten on her last event, the horse vault. Given two vaults, she achieved the 10, not once, but twice.

Los Angeles had been the only bidder for the Games of 1984. But Los Angeles, despite its problems, revitalized the Olympic Movement to some degree. Having shown that the Olympics did not need to be a “loss-leader” and could, in fact, produce an operating profit, many cities became interested in hosting the Olympics. Shortly after the 1984 Olympics, six cities would bid to host the 1992 Games. And the IOC reached out to a seemingly odd bedfellow, Seoul, Korea, to provide a bit of solace to its troubled Movement in 1988.

Bid process

There was no vote. Los Angeles, California (United States) was tentatively awarded the 1984 Olympic Games at the 80th IOC Session in Athens on 18 May 1978. Los Angeles was required to meet certain conditions of the Olympic Charter. On 31 August 1978, the IOC Executive Board announced a postal vote that lasted until 7 October 1978, with a ⅔ majority required to confirm Los Angeles as the host city. The vote was as follows: 75 for Los Angeles, 3 against, with 6 abstentions. Teheran (Iran) also made a preliminary bid but withdrew before the final bidding.

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Ronald Reagan (President)
Torchbearer(s) Rafer Johnson (Lit flame), Gina Hemphill
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Edwin Moses
Taker of the Official's Oath Sharon Weber (Artistic Gymnastics)
Flagbearers Full list
Olympic Flag Bearers Wyomia Tyus, John Naber, Parry O'Brien, Al Oerter, Bruce Jenner, Bill Thorpe, Billy Mills, Mack Robinson, Richie Sandoval, Sammy Lee, Pat McCormick

Medal Disciplines

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

Other Disciplines

Athletics Sailing
Baseball Tennis

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 83 61 30 174
Romania ROU 20 16 17 53
West Germany FRG 17 19 23 59
People's Republic of China CHN 15 8 9 32
Italy ITA 14 6 12 32
Canada CAN 10 18 16 44
Japan JPN 10 8 14 32
New Zealand NZL 8 1 2 11
Yugoslavia YUG 7 4 7 18
Republic of Korea KOR 6 6 7 19
Great Britain GBR 5 11 21 37
France FRA 5 7 16 28
Netherlands NED 5 2 6 13
Australia AUS 4 8 12 24
Finland FIN 4 2 6 12
Sweden SWE 2 11 6 19
Mexico MEX 2 3 1 6
Morocco MAR 2 0 0 2
Brazil BRA 1 5 2 8
Spain ESP 1 2 2 5
Belgium BEL 1 1 2 4
Austria AUT 1 1 1 3
Kenya KEN 1 0 2 3
Portugal POR 1 0 2 3
Pakistan PAK 1 0 0 1
Switzerland SUI 0 4 4 8
Denmark DEN 0 3 3 6
Jamaica JAM 0 1 2 3
Norway NOR 0 1 2 3
Greece GRE 0 1 1 2
Nigeria NGR 0 1 1 2
Puerto Rico PUR 0 1 1 2
Colombia COL 0 1 0 1
Côte d'Ivoire CIV 0 1 0 1
Egypt EGY 0 1 0 1
Ireland IRL 0 1 0 1
Peru PER 0 1 0 1
Syrian Arab Republic SYR 0 1 0 1
Thailand THA 0 1 0 1
Turkey TUR 0 0 3 3
Venezuela VEN 0 0 3 3
Algeria ALG 0 0 2 2
Cameroon CMR 0 0 1 1
Chinese Taipei TPE 0 0 1 1
Dominican Republic DOM 0 0 1 1
Iceland ISL 0 0 1 1
Zambia ZAM 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Ecaterina Szabo ROU 4 1 0 5
Carl Lewis USA 4 0 0 4
Li Ning CHN 3 2 1 6
Nancy Hogshead USA 3 1 0 4
Mike Heath USA 3 1 0 4
Ian Ferguson NZL 3 0 0 3
Tracy Caulkins USA 3 0 0 3
Mary T. Meagher USA 3 0 0 3
Carrie Steinseifer USA 3 0 0 3
Rick Carey USA 3 0 0 3
Rowdy Gaines USA 3 0 0 3
Valerie Brisco-Hooks USA 3 0 0 3

All medalists at these Games