Moscow 1980 Summer Olympics

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In 1980 U.S. President Jimmy Carter decided to use the olympics as a platform for protests against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. Thereby, the olympics were hit by a political boycott for the second time in a row. USA gained support to the boycott from most of the Western world.

The Moscow olympics were held from 19 July - 3rd August 1980. A total of 65 countries turned down the Soviet invitation to the 1980 olympic games. Some countries such as England and Australia supported the Western nations boycott but allowed their athletes to decide for themselves whether they would participate or not.

Only 80 nations participated in Moscow 1980 - the lowest number since the olympics in Melbourne 1956. Similarly, the app. 5.300 participating athletes, was the lowest number since the Tokyo summer olympic games in 1964.

The political posturing also affected the opening ceremony at the Lenin Stadium with seating for 103.000 spectators, where a number of nations chose either to be completely absent, or to march into the stadium with the olympic flag in front of their athletes instead of the national flag, because the national flag could be interpreted as political support.

The Moscow olympics program was virtually unchanged from the olympics in Montreal four years earlier. This amounted to a total of 203 events in 23 sports. A number of events were especially hit by the boycotts. For example only three qualified teams participated in the hockey tournament; judo was without Japanese athletes; in riding and sailing many leading nations were absent; and mens gymnastics were without gymnasts from Japan, China and the U.S.

Despite these circumstances there were many top sports performances in Moscow 1980 including a range of new world and olympic records. In athletics one highlight was the duels between the two British middle distance runners Sebastian Coe and Steven Ovett on the 800 and 1500 meters and the Ethiopian Miruts Yifter's victories on 5.000 m and 10.000 m.

In the swimming pool Vladimir Salnikov from the Soviet Union won three gold medals. In the 1500 m free style, he broke one of swimmings dream boundaries by being the first to swim the distance under 15 minutes.

In USA's absence the nations medal race was a showdown between the Soviet Union and East Germany with the host nation as the dominant part. The result was a total of 80 Soviet gold medals against East Germany's 47. In third place came Bulgaria, Cuba and Italy far behind with 8 gold medals each.

Follow this link for a detailed and interactive medal standing for Moscow 1980.
The story about the Moscow Olympics 1980 is based on the official Olympic reports and the Olympian Database.
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