Why Were The 1980 Olympics Boycotted? Which Countries Boycotted The 1980 Olympics?

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Multiple nations and athletes threatening to boycott the 2020 Olympics if it was held as scheduled. Let's take a look at why were the 1980 Olympics boycotted.

Written By Sreehari Menon | Mumbai | Updated On:
why were the 1980 olympics boycotted

The Tokyo Olympics 2020 was officially postponed on Tuesday due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Many athletes and associations across the globe threatened to boycott the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if the games were held in the current scenario. Had the 2020 Olympics gone ahead as scheduled, it could have resulted into a boycott by many countries similar to the 1980 Moscow Olympics boycott. Here, let's take a look at why were the 1980 Olympics boycotted and the impact of 1980 Olympic boycott. 

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Why were the 1980 Olympics boycotted? Jimmy Carter ordered US to boycott 1980 Olympics

The then US President Jimmy Carter ordered the country to boycott the 1980 Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. On January 14, 1980, the Carter admission set a deadline to the Soviet government to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan otherwise the US contingent will boycott the Olympics as a consequence. Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark also threw his weight behind Jimmy Carter and said that Canada will also follow USA's suit in boycotting the Games. When the Soviet Union decided against withdrawing its troops, Jimmy Carter ordered US to boycott 1980 Olympics. The US urged fellow Allied nations to participate in boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics and as many as 65 countries boycotted the games. 

Also Read: Tokyo Olympics postponed: A Timeline Of The Debate To Postpone The Tokyo Olympics

Why were the 1980 Olympics boycotted? Impact of 1980 Olympic boycott

The impact of 1980 Olympic boycott was massive. Some events, such as swimming, track and field, boxing, basketball, diving, field hockey and equestrian sports, were hard hit. Whilst opponents from 36 countries became Olympic medalists, a vast majority of the medals were collected by the Soviet Union and East Germany in what was the most skewed medal tally since 1904. The USSR led the boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, with 15 countries following the Soviet Union's footsteps.

Impact of 1980 Olympic boycott: Olympic coverage cancellation

ABC intended to spend at least $175 million for its Olympic telecast a day after NBC retreated because of the "unsettled world situation". CBS was reportedly still in the bidding at the end of the negotiations. The NBC requested the International Olympic Committee and the Yugoslavian government to delay the negations for the 1980 Olympics and 1984 Olympic deals. When the Yugoslavs denied the appeal, NBC withdrew, leaving the bidding to ABC and CBS. NBC reached an agreement with the Soviet government to pay $87 million for the Moscow coverage but said it will dwell by whatever action the United States takes towards the boycott of the Soviet Games. As the US government boycotted the event, the deal was cancelled.

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Why were the 1980 Olympics boycotted? Which countries boycotted the 1980 Olympics?

While as many as 65 countries completed boycotted the games, many athletes featured at the Games under the Olympic flag rather than their respective National or NOC flags. USA, Canada, China, West Germany, Japan, Argentina, Hong Kong and Argentina were amongst the prominent countries to boycott the Tokyo Olympics. Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and France did not participate in the Opening Ceremony. Great Britain and Ireland sent one representative each who entered the Olympic stadium during the Opening Ceremony under the Olympic flag. 

Also Read: Tokyo Olympics postponed: German Olympic Chief Slams IOC, Backs Tokyo Delay

Why were the 1980 Olympics boycotted? The Liberty Games Classic

After Jimmy Carter ordered US to Boycott 1980 Olympics, the Liberty Games Classic was organized by The Athletics Congress as part of the 1980 Olympic boycott and held at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Athletes from 29 countries participated in the event, many of which had taken part in the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics. China, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, New Zealand and South Korea were amongst the nations participating at the Liberty Games classic and a similar event the 'Friendship Games' were hosted in Moscow in 1984 where 49 countries participated. 

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