Los Angeles United States, 1984

Legacy of the Games

The American-led boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow prompted revenge boycotts by Eastern Bloc countries in 1984. In total, 14 countries including the USSR, Cuba and East Germany declined to participate in the Games. Iran and Libya also failed to attend, for different reasons. The boycott had a significant effect on the results of several events which were normally dominated by the absent countries, especially the USSR and East Germany.

The Los Angeles Games were the first since 1896 to be staged without government funding. While the 1976 and 1980 Games were saddled with expenses greatly in excess of their revenues due to ambitious stadium construction, Los Angeles decided to control its spending and not build major new venues for the Games. A new velodrome and swimming stadium were built for the Games, paid for by corporate sponsors.

This strategy helped to ensure the future of the Olympic Games.  The terrible financial losses incurred by the host cities of the two previous Games had caused a very low level of interest in hosting the Olympics Games, to the point where  Los Angeles had been awarded the 1984 Games by default, as the only viable contender.  The city’s prudent approach to stadium building, coupled with its use of corporate sponsorship, helped towards the eventual $200 million profit made by the 1984 Games.

A large part of this profit was due to the burgeoning practice of selling exclusive television rights to the Games.  These contracts were signed well in advance, providing the city with a sound financial cushion in the planning stages.