Tue, 3 Dec 2013

In 1980, The USA Boycotted The Moscow Olympics

In 1980, the United States of America (USA) led a 61-country boycott to the Moscow Olympics in response to the 1979 Soviet War in Afghanistan. This boycott is the first and so-far only boycott in the history of the USA.

So, why did USA boycott the Moscow Olympics?

President Jimmy Carter announced the boycott after the Soviet Union refused to pull out its forces in Afghanistan. Besides the boycott, President Carter had also condemned the actions of the Soviets to the United Nations and also cut-off arms negotiations with them. This 1980 boycott is the first and only time the USA had boycotted the Olympics.

A partial list of the boycotting countries is as follows:

In Asia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea joined the US in the boycott. Meanwhile, in Europe, West Germany, Monaco, Côte d'Ivoire, Netherlands Antilles, Turkey, and Norway were among those who boycotted the event as well.

Sure enough, numerous countries from the Middle East and Africa joined in as well like: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Ghana, Haiti, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Somalia, Morocco, Sudan, and Niger. Other countries that supported the boycott were South American countries such as Argentina, Chile, and El Salvador.

With all of the support, the answer to the question as to "Why Did USA Boycott the Moscow Olympics?" seems justifiable.

The Olympic Boycott Games in Philadelphia

Twenty-nine out of the 61 non-participating countries participated in the Liberty Bell Classic, also known as the Olympic Boycott Games, held in the University of Philadelphia. The games opened on July 16, a couple of days before the July 19th opening of the Moscow Olympics.

Interestingly, some of the records were better in the Liberty Bell Classic compared to the Moscow Olympics. An example of which is the 110m hurdles. The American participant, (13.31) was better than the gold medal winner of the Moscow Olympics, Thomas Munkelt of East Germany (13.39).

The Cold War

Remember why did USA Boycott the Moscow Olympics? Sadly, the boycott had no effect on the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan. It wasn't until nearly 10 years later that they withdrew their forces. The 1980 USA boycott of the Moscow Olympics was not the only sports event marred by the tension of the Cold War diplomacy in history.

The first event that had been affected by the rising tensions between the two countries was the 1973 Chile World Cup when the Soviet Union refused to participate in the soccer matches due to the overthrow and death of the leftist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, in that year.

Communist Nations Boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984

In response to the 1980 boycott, the Soviet Union also refused to participate in the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles, citing Anti-Soviet sentiments and chauvinism that is being propagated in the USA as the reason for their boycott. President Ronald Reagan called the boycott "a blatant political decision for which there was no real justification".

Following the Soviet Union's footsteps were 13 other communist nations such as North Korea, Cuba, Poland, Vietnam, Mongolia and Czechoslovakia among others. Like the 1980 boycott of the USA, there was only minimal impact on diplomatic relations because of the boycott.

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