The Olympics and Politics

The idea behind the Olympics is lighthearted international competition meant to foster friendly relations between states, regardless of what may be going on in the greater international political community. However, this has proved to not always be the case as it was with the 1980 Olympics. Much of the western community was greatly opposed to the USSR invasion of Afghanistan, and their staunch opposition to the campaign was reflected in their decision to boycott the Moscow Olympics. This did not stop the USSR though, and the games were still a great hit within Moscow and those who attended. Many tickets were sold (although the most were taken by Soviets, but this may just be due to the fact that they were hosting the games and not because as many nations were not attending the games) and the events were reportedly enjoyed by all those who went. In addition to still providing a great source of entertainment, the preparation and execution of the Olympics provided many jobs and economics opportunities for the citizens of Moscow, as well as the city itself. Infrastructure was greatly improved to help deal with the large influx of people who would be flocking to the city to view the games, and a massive cleanup effort was undertaken to make the city look mighty. Were it not for the boycott by the United States and others, the games might have been a great hit, but politics got the best of the international community in this contest.

Worth noting is the fact that the USSR and many communist countries boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, for ‘security reasons’. However, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand that this was probably done as a response of the boycott of the Moscow games. The claims of security issues were not without reason however, as an article published in the USSR cited many acts of violence occurring up to and the day of the opening ceremonies in LA. Still though, the USSR’s decision to boycott the US Olympics looks more like retribution for the 1980 boycott instead of a genuine concern of violence against their athletes, because everyone knows the the Soviets always like the opportunity to prove they are better than any capitalist society, and the Olympics always provide a great arena for this to be proved.

The mascot of the 1980 Olympics, the bear Mischa
The mascot of the 1980 Olympics, the bear Mischa.

Links:

http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/19982340

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1980olympics&Year=1980&navi=byYear