There had been only a little dissent when the IOC awarded these
Games to Moscow in 1974. The Soviet Union had joined the modern Olympics
in 1952 and was proven to be the second greatest golds scorer of all times.
However, in 1979 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and much of the non-communist
world, led by the U.S., tried to impose a boycott on the Games. Not all such
countries supported the boycott, although sports within them sometimes did.
There were quite a few countries who couldn't lift the financial burden of going
to Moscow, and through boycotting, found an easy way out. Anyhow, 40 to 50 counties
declared deniance, with the U.S. leading the list, followed by West (then) Germany
and Japan. The British expressed their own kind of boycotting. They sent their
team but under the Olympic Circles flag!
Facilities in Moscow were excellent and the 103,000-seats Lenin Stadium was full everyday, a proof that Muscovites were lodging for a high quality sports spectacle. But the viewers, although they proved to be very knowledgeable in sports matters, left something to be desired in their treatment of foreign competitors, particularly those from other Eastern Bloc countries. The events were far more numerous and brought the total of golds to 203. The Montreal darling, Nadia Comaneci returned but she no longer was the force she had been.
Long distance runs was again an African affair but marathon gave a gold one to Waldemar Cierpinski of Eastern (then) Germany. In the triple jump, Russian Victor Saneev got a silver to mark the end of his sports career. He told newsmen: "I like silver. It will go fine with the golds ones I display in my office!" East German girls dominated the swimming pools winning 26 medals out of a total of 35.
Cuban heavyweight boxer Teofilo Stephenson won the title of the first boxer to have won golds in three consecutive Olympiads. Moscow presented also an anthropological record: The North Korean gymnast Myongk Hui Choe who was standing at 1.35m. tall and weighing 25 kilos!
Moscow, not having a strong competition after the American absence, did not give the world strong sports emotions. The Soviets took the most golds with the East Germans second in line. The British were listed in No. 9 place. Some sportswriters said that this happened because they didn't have the Union Jack to support them. Perhaps this is true...
Text by Dimitri N. Marcopoulos
1980 Moscow Olympics: Various WebPages
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