At the beginning of the decade, the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow caused a lot of controversy – especially with the political atmosphere and the US-led boycott of the games.
Awarded the Summer Olympics in 1974, Moscow beat out Los Angeles, which hosted the following Summer Olympics.
Eighty nations participated in these Summer games, the smallest number of countries since 1956. Twenty four countries boycotted attending the Olympics because of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan that year.
Several countries who did participate elected to use the Olympic flag instead of their country’s flag to highlight their focus on the sports and not the politics in the opening ceremonies.
Thirty six world records were broken at these Summer Olympics and hosted the highest percentage of female athletes (21%) than any previous summer games.
Athletes from the Soviet bloc – East Germany, Bulgaria, Romania Soviet Union, and Cuba dominated the medals – although France and Italy did very well at these games. In the end the top three medal winners were from the Soviet Union, East Germany and Bulgaria.
Tainted by this experience, the following Olympics also fell to a boycott, led by the Soviet Union against the United States host city Los Angeles. For viewers, instead of seeing the multitude of live events, we only saw snippets on the news, as the news agencies didn’t cover the Games as extensively.
For viewers in North America, it felt almost like the Games didn’t happen.
The 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympics were tainted by the world’s politicians – but thankfully it passed and the focus on sports came back for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.