1984 Summer Olympics boycott
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The boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles was a follow-up to the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. The boycott involved 14 Eastern Bloc countries and allies, led by the Soviet Union, who initiated the boycott on May 8, 1984. The boycott affected a large number of Olympic events that were normally dominated by the absent countries. Boycotting countries organized another major event, called the Friendship Games, in July–August 1984.
The USSR announced its intentions to boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics on May 8, 1984.1 Announcing its intentions on May 8, 1984, the Soviet Union cited security concerns and stated that "chauvinistic sentiments and an anti-Soviet hysteria [were] being whipped up in the United States."1 A US official said the country had ignored suggestive comments by the Soviets in the weeks building up to the announcement and that, in spite of all the indications, America was "absolutely dumbfounded" when the official announcement arrived.2
After the announcement, six more nations subsequently followed the boycott, including Bulgaria, East Germany (on May 10), Mongolia and Vietnam (both May 11),3 and Laos and Czechoslovakia (both May 13). China formally accepted that it would be present in Los Angeles, as the Laotians and Czechs announced their decision to boycott the event.4
Later, Afghanistan also decided to boycott the event, being the eighth country to boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics.5 Even later, Hungary (May 16) and Poland (May 17) became the ninth and tenth countries to join the boycott. Hungary claimed the lives of its athletes would be put in danger if they were to spend time in Los Angeles. On the other hand, Poland said that the United States was engaging in a "campaign aimed at disturbing the Games." 67
Cuba was the eleventh country to announce its participation in the boycott, making the front page news in America because it was a "serious blow to boxing and baseball" (May 24).8 South Yemen was the twelfth country to remove itself from the event (May 27); the Los Angeles Times stated that this was due to their "Marxist" connections.9 North Korea was the thirteenth nation to boycott the 1984 Olympics.10 Radio Moscow announced Angola's decision to boycott the 1984 Olympics; the country became the second African state and 15th state to participate in the boycott,11 after Ethiopia.12
Iran decided to boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics because of the "United States interference in the Middle East, its support for the regime occupying Jerusalem, and the crimes being committed by the U.S.A. in Latin America, especially in El Salvador."13 Iran, along with Albania, were the only countries not to attend both the 1980 Moscow and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Libya also boycotted but for separate reasons.citation needed
American athletes were ordered to boycott the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. However, this did not stop competition between Olympic athletes of both countries.14 Despite the official "Afghanistan war reason," it was probably the first large Olympic games boycott from either side, even larger than previous controversial Olympic Games, such as the one in Berlin or other nations worldwide. Howard A. Tyner of the Chicago Tribune mentioned:
Deep down, it was undoubtedly the hurt and embarrassment of 1980 that lies behind the stunning Soviet decision Tuesday to pass up this year's Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.15
The American media saw the Soviet boycott as a form of revenge for their boycott from the 1980 Moscow Games, which was in response to the 1979 Soviet war in Afghanistan,15 whereas the Soviet media saw their boycott as a way to protect their own athletes.
Among those subscribing to the 'revenge hypothesis' was Peter Ueberroth, the chief organizer of the 1984 L.A. Games, who expressed his views in a press conference after the boycott was announced, on the same day that the Olympic torch relay in the United States began in New York City. U.S. President Ronald Reagan later stated his belief that the Soviets feared some of their athletes might defect. As more countries withdrew, the IOC announced on the deadline week that it would consider extending the deadline for entry into the Olympics.16 The three top medal winners from the 1980 Games (which was the subject of a boycott by many nations) in Moscow were among the boycotters, and media analysis noted this would weaken the field of competitors in a number of sports.17
Listed in the chronological order of their withdrawal, not by alphabetical or any geographical order. 16 or 18 (from different sources) in all.
- East Germany
- South Yemen
- North Korea
Three Communist countries did not join the Soviet-led boycott and instead sent teams to the 1984 Summer Olympics.
- Romania was the only member of the Warsaw Pact that did not boycott the Games.
- Yugoslavia was a non-aligned country that acted independently of the Soviet Union.
- China was hostile towards the Soviet Union and had friendly relations with the United States. In 1980, China had sent a team to the Winter Olympics in the United States, while boycotting the Summer Olympics in the Soviet Union.
In the Season 4 episode, "Lisa's First Word", of the U.S. television show The Simpsons, Krusty Burger is featured in a promotion where the characters get free food if they receive a slip that features an event that was "won" by the United States. The promotion was rigged, as was said in the episode, where every game card was to be in an event that "Communists never lose." However, almost immediately after that is said, word of the boycott is spread and the rigging backfires. Krusty Burger loses so much money on the promotion that Krusty publicly states that he will "personally spit in every 50th burger".
The Krusty Burger promotion paralleled a real-life McDonald's scratch-card promotion from the 1984 Olympics that also lost the corporation money. The promotion was called "If the US Wins, You Win!" and gave away Big Mac hamburger sandwiches for every gold medal, fries for every silver medal, and Coca-Cola beverages for every bronze.18
- Burns, John F. (May 9, 1984). "Moscow Will Keep Its Team From Los Angeles Olympics". New York Times.
- East Germany withdraws from Summer Games. The Evening Independent – May 10, 1984.
- VIETNAM AND MONGOLIA ALSO WITHDRAW FROM OLYMPICS. Philadelphia Inquirer. May 12, 1984 – A07 NATIONAL.
"Two more Communist countries dropped out of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics yesterday, but the head of the International Olympic Committee promised to 'fight to the last minute' to bring the Soviet Union and its allies to the Games."
- Reich, Kenneth. Czechs and Laotians Join Boycott: China Confirms It Will Take Part in Summer Olympics. The LA Times. May 13, 1984. SD1.
- Lowitt, Bruce. Afghanistan Joins Boycott. The Victoria Advocate. May 14, 1984.
- Hungary 9th to Join Boycott of Olympics. The LA Times. May 16, 1984. A1.
- Barnard, William R. Poland 10th to join Olympic boycott: Romania only Soviet ally still in games. The Deseret News.
- Maxwell, Evan. Cuba Joins Olympic Boycott: Serious Blow to Boxing and Baseball. The LA Times. May 24, 1984. 1.
- Marxist South Yemen Becomes 12th Country to Drop Out of L.A. Games. The LA Times. May 27, 1984. A27.
- N. KOREA JOINS OLYMPIC BOYCOTT. Miami Herald. June 3, 1984. "While North Korea became the 13th nation to join the Soviet Union in boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Soviet star Sergei Bubka Saturday shattered his week-old world record in the pole vault".
- Reich, Kenneth. Angola Becomes 15th Nation to Join Olympic Boycott. The LA Times. Jun 27, 1984. B3.
- CTV Olympics, "Ethiopia," http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/01/romney-israel-comments-lags-polls
- Iran Announces Boycott Of the 1984 Olympics. The New York Times. Published: August 2, 1983.
- Tyner, Howard A. U.S. Olympic boycott of 1980 led to Soviet decision of 1984. Chicago Tribune. May 9, 1984. D13.
- Reich, Kenneth. Olympic Entry Deadline Might Be Extended. The LA Times. May 30, 1984. OC3.
- East Germany Joins L.A. Olympics Boycott. Sarasota Herald-Tribune – May 11, 1984.
- "If Tonga wins, you win!".