Moscow Soviet Union, 1980

Legacy of the Games

Many, although not all, countries which had boycotted the previous Games of 1976 in protest at South Africa’s apartheid regime did compete in Moscow. However the Games were disrupted by another boycott, led by the USA in protest at the 1979 Soviet war in Afghanistan. Many participants in the boycott competed instead at the ‘Liberty Bell Classic’, also known as the Olympic Boycott Games, in Philadelphia, USA. This American-led boycott prompted a retaliatory boycott by the Soviet Union of the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

The boycott meant that the final total of participating countries at the 1980 Olympic Games was eighty, the smallest number since 1956. The impact of the boycott on individual competitions was mixed – some events, such as field hockey and equestrianism, were badly hit. However others, such as boxing, rowing, athletics and swimming, had more competitors than at the previous Games in 1976.

At the Closing Ceremony the flag raised to symbolise the next host of the Games was the city flag of Los Angeles, not the country flag of the United States as would have been more usual.