So America RSVPed, they said nah…

This is the Olympic Emblem used in the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow

Until 1992, the Summer and Winter Olympics were still held on the same year. In 1980, the Winter Olympics were held in Lake Placid, New York, while the Summer Olympics were held in Moscow, USSR. The Winter Olympics were famously marked by the US win over the Soviets in hockey, but the Summer Olympics are remembered for something a little different.

The US Olympic Hockey team celebrates its victory over the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics

The United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow due to the fact that the Soviets had just invaded Afghanistan at the end of 1979. In addition to the US, 55 other countries also decided to join the boycott.

The USSR, which had poured┬áso much time and effort into making the city look pristine, was obviously unhappy about the United States basically destroying the Soviets claim-to-fame in the Olympic world. In an article from Pravda in March of 1980, the Soviets go all-out in their criticism of the United States decision, specifically targeting President Carter. They refer to the boycotters as “…enemies of the Olympic movement,” and later go on to say “Certain politicians have brazenly interfered in the international athletic movement, their aim being to wreck the Moscow Olympics to please the personal ambitions of US President Carter.” The Soviets make the boycott out to be an attack on the Olympics themselves rather than strictly for political reasons. They even later write “The clear intention is to carry over the policy of blocs into sports,” meaning that the US is just trying to find another way to work to undermine the Soviets. Whatever the case, the Olympics were still held, and millions of people bought tickets and attended.

On a much lighter note, here is a picture of “Misha,” ┬áthe mascot of the Moscow Olympics. Now how could anyone boycott something so cuddly?

“Misha,” the cute and cuddly mascot of the Moscow Olympics

9 Replies to “So America RSVPed, they said nah…”

  1. This was definitely a political move by the US and I think it’s pretty interesting the USSR tried to broadcast it as an attack on the Olympics. I wonder how many countries bought that? I love the picture at the end – it’s like a Soviet Disney character.

  2. I find it interesting how the Soviets took the US boycotting the Olympics as a boycott of the sport itself and the olympic movement rather than a political statement. They may have just been saying that to make the US look worse on the international stage, but either way it was a very bold political statement on Carter’s part.

  3. Great title for this post! And yes, Misha is pretty adorable. I agree with Parker that your quote is well-chosen. Also, it must have been so painful for the US athletes who had trained for the games and then weren’t allowed to go.

  4. I think you did a really good job of highlighting just how upset the Soviets were as a result of the boycott. It’s a great contrast to the post Maddie also did on the olympics ( who talks about how this idea of “bowing out” of the olympics wasn’t new and was used again after 1980! To me, this shows how while we might look at the olympics as being something fun, it actually brings countries together much more than we really think.

  5. This is a very famous moment is sports history. Carter’s decision is still hotly debated today. Great post

  6. The Miracle on Ice is truly an iconic moment in US history during the Cold War. Love how you decided to write your post on the 1980 Summer Olympics by the United States. I find it crazy how sports and politics can go hand in hand sometime and have such a profound affect on people. Great post!!

  7. I also wrote on the Olympic Boycott. I find it very interesting that the Soviet government did not emphasize the true reasons for the boycott in propaganda (they did mention it in some articles), but instead painted it as against the Olympic Movement itself. This may have had something to do with the Boycott not accomplishing much from a foreign policy perspective. It’s quite a fascinating moment in the Cold War, really. Nice job!

  8. I enjoyed little Misha lol!! How could anyone stay away from Misha? You’re point about how Russia tried to fix up Moscow in order to show everyone how great they were gave me a little more insight on why they were so mad about the US boycott. Their efforts remind be of a lot of the 2008 Olympics, and China’s efforts to make Beijing look grand and clean. I really enjoyed your post. Great job.

  9. I love your title and I love Misha! I kind of feel bad that they worked so hard to make the Olympics happen and then nobody showed up! It’s like nobody showing up to a kids birthday party. Even though they were being a bad kid and stealing Afghanistan’s toys. I enjoyed how you mentioned the propaganda with making the political boycott out to be an Olympic boycott.

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