The 1980 Games were the first Olympic Games to be staged in Eastern Europe, and remain the only Summer Olympics held there, as well as the first Olympic Games to be held in a Slavic language-speaking country. They were also the first Olympic Games to be held in a socialist country, and the only Summer Games to be held in such a country until 2008 in Beijing, China. These were the final Olympic Games under the IOC Presidency of Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin.
Eighty nations were represented at the Moscow Games – the smallest number since 1956. Led by the United States, 66 countries boycotted the games entirely because of the Soviet–Afghan War. Some athletes from some of the boycotting countries (they are not included in the list of 66 countries that boycotted the games entirely) participated in the games under the Olympic Flag. The Soviet Union would later boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics.
A Soviet stamp sheet showing the logo of the games (left) and its mascotMisha (right) holding the 1980 Olympic torch. The map shows the torch relay route running from Olympia, Greece, the site of the ancient Olympic Games, through Tallinn, Estonian SSR to Moscow, Russian SFSR. It also depicts the number of gold, silver and bronze medals (80, 69, 46) won by the Soviet athletes at the Games.
The only two cities to bid for the 1980 Summer Olympics were Moscow and Los Angeles. The choice between them was made on 23 October 1974 in the 75th IOC Session in Vienna, Austria. Los Angeles would eventually host the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Although approximately half of the 24 countries that boycotted the 1976 Summer Olympics (in protest against the IOC not expelling New Zealand who sanctioned a rugby tour of apartheid South Africa) participated in the Moscow Games, the 1980 Summer Olympics were disrupted by another, even larger, boycott led by the United States in protest at the 1979 Soviet–Afghan War. The Soviet invasion spurred Jimmy Carter to issue an ultimatum on 20 January 1980, that the US would boycott the Moscow Olympics if Soviet troops did not withdraw from Afghanistan within one month. 65 countries and regions invited did not take part in the 1980 Olympics. Many of these followed the United States' boycott initiative, while others[who?] cited economic reasons for not coming.Iran, under Ayatollah Khomeini hostile to both superpowers, boycotted when the Islamic Conference condemned the invasion.
Many of the boycotting nations participated instead in the Liberty Bell Classic, also known as the "Olympic Boycott Games", in Philadelphia. However, the nations that did compete had won 71 percent of all medals, and similarly 71 percent of the gold medals, at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. This was in part because of state-run doping programs that had been developed in the Eastern Bloc countries. As a form of protest against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, fifteen countries marched in the Opening Ceremony with the Olympic Flag instead of their national flags, and the Olympic Flag and Olympic Hymn were used at medal ceremonies when athletes from these countries won medals. Competitors from three countries – New Zealand,Portugal, and Spain – competed under the flags of their respective National Olympic Committees. Some of these teams that marched under flags other than their national flags were depleted by boycotts by individual athletes, while some athletes did not participate in the march.
The impact of the boycott was mixed. Some events, such as swimming, track and field, boxing, basketball, diving, field hockey and equestrian sports, were hard hit. Whilst competitors from 36 countries became Olympic medalists, the great majority of the medals were taken by the host country and East Germany in what was the most skewed medal tally since 1904.
Events, records and drug tests overview
There were 203 events – more than at any previous Olympics.
36 World records, 39 European records and 74 Olympic records were set at the games. In total, this was more records than were set at Montreal. New Olympic records were set 241 times over the course of the competitions and world records were beaten 97 times.
A 1989 report by a committee of the Australian Senate claimed that "there is hardly a medal winner at the Moscow Games, certainly not a gold medal winner...who is not on one sort of drug or another: usually several kinds. The Moscow Games might well have been called the Chemists' Games".
A member of the IOC Medical Commission, Manfred Donike, privately ran additional tests with a new technique for identifying abnormal levels of testosterone by measuring its ratio to epitestosterone in urine. Twenty percent of the specimens he tested, including those from sixteen gold medalists would have resulted in disciplinary proceedings had the tests been official. The results of Donike's unofficial tests later convinced the IOC to add his new technique to their testing protocols. The first documented case of "blood doping" occurred at the 1980 Summer Olympics as a runner was transfused with two pints of blood before winning medals in the 5000 m and 10,000 m.
Media and broadcasting
Major broadcasters of the Games were USSR State TV and Radio (1,370 accreditation cards), Eurovision (31 countries, 818 cards) and Intervision (11 countries, 342 cards).TV Asahi with 68 cards provided coverage for Japan, while OTI representing Latin America received 59 cards and the Seven Network provided coverage for Australia (48 cards).NBC, which had intended to be another major broadcaster, canceled its coverage in response to the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, and became a minor broadcaster with 56 accreditation cards, although the network did air highlights and recaps of the games on a regular basis. (ABC aired scenes of the opening ceremony during its Nightline program, and promised highlights each night, but the next night, the show announced that they could not air any highlights as NBC still had exclusive broadcast rights in the USA). The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation almost canceled their plans for coverage after Canada took part in the boycott and was represented by nine cards. The television center used 20 television channels, compared to 16 for the Montreal Games, 12 for the Munich Games, and seven for the Mexico City Games.
According to the Official Report, submitted to the IOC by the NOC of the USSR, total expenditures for the preparations for and staging of the Games were US$1,350,000,000, total revenues being US$231,000,000.
The Oxford Olympics Study established the outturn cost of the Moscow 1980 Summer Olympics at US$6.3 billion in 2015 dollars. This includes sports-related costs only, that is, (i) operational costs incurred by the organizing committee for the purpose of staging the Games, e.g., expenditures for technology, transportation, workforce, administration, security, catering, ceremonies, and medical services, and (ii) direct capital costs incurred by the host city and country or private investors to build, e.g., the competition venues, the Olympic village, international broadcast center, and media and press center, which are required to host the Games. Indirect capital costs are not included, such as for road, rail, or airport infrastructure, or for hotel upgrades or other business investment incurred in preparation for the Games but not directly related to staging the Games. The cost for Moscow 1980 compares with costs of US$4.6 billion for Rio 2016, US$40-44 billion for Beijing 2008 and US$51 billion for Sochi 2014, the most expensive Olympics in history. Average cost for the Summer Games since 1960 is US$5.2 billion.
Tomi Poikolainen of Finland, who had not finished any of the previous three days' shooting higher than fourth, came from fourth on the last day to win the men's archery competition, scoring 2455 points. He won gold just three points ahead of a Soviet.
The women's archery gold was won by Ketevan Losaberidze (USSR) who was also the world, European and Soviet champion.
The women's archery silver was won by Natalia Butuzova (USSR). In 1979, she had set nine national records and three world records.
The U.S. archery team was one of the strongest ever fielded but due to the boycott the team never had a chance to prove itself. This team held every record and featured 1976 Olympic Champion Darrell O. Pace, who was averaging 100 points more than the winning score in Moscow at the time.
Ethiopian Miruts Yifter won the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres athletics double, emulating Lasse Virén's 1972 and 1976 performances.
"I have a 90% chance of winning the 1,500 metres" wrote Steve Ovett in an article he did for one of Britain's Sunday papers just before the start of the Olympics. After he won the 800 metres Olympic gold, beating world-record holder Sebastian Coe, Ovett stated that he would not only win the 1,500 metres race, but would beat the world record by as much as four seconds. Ovett had won 45 straight 1,500 metres races since May 1977. In contrast Coe had competed in only eight 1,500 metres races between 1976 and 1980. Coe won the race, holding off Ovett in the final lap. Ovett finished third.
Aided by the absence of American opposition, Allan Wells beat Cuban Silvio Leonard to become the first Briton since 1924 to win the Olympic 100 metres race.
Gerd Wessig – who had made the East German team only 2 weeks before the Games – easily won the gold medal with a 2.36 metres (7 ft 9 in) high jump. This was 9 cm higher than he had ever jumped before.
In the 1980 Olympic women's long jump competition Soviet jumper, Tatiana Kolpakova, bested her compatriots and other competitors by setting a new Olympic record of 7.06 metres (23 ft 2 in).
Poland's Władysław Kozakiewicz won the pole vault with a jump of 5.78 metres (19 ft 0 in) – only the second pole vaulting world record to be established during an Olympics. The previous time had been at the Antwerp Olympics 1920.
In the long jump competition, three women beat 23 feet (7.0 m) for the first time ever in one competition.
In the women's pentathlon the Soviet Nadezhda Tkachenko (present day-Ukraine) scored 5,083 points to become the first athlete to exceed 5,000 points in the event during Olympic competition, she won gold.
For the first time in the history of the Olympics all eight male participants in the long jump final beat the mark of 8 metres (26 ft 3 in).
Lutz Dombrowski (GDR) won the long jump gold. His was the longest jump recorded at sea level and he became only the second ever to jump further than 28 feet (8.5 m).
In the triple jump final Viktor Saneyev (USSR; present day-Georgia ), who won gold at Mexico, Munich and Montreal won silver behind Jaak Uudmäe (USSR; present day-Estonia) and ahead of Brazil's world record holder João Carlos de Oliveira. Both de Oliveira and Australia's Ian Campbell produced long jumps, but they were declared fouls by the officials and not measured; in Campbell's case, his longest jump was ruled a "scrape foul", with his trailing leg touching the track during the jump. Campbell insisted he hadn't scraped, and it was alleged the officials intentionally threw out his and de Oliveira's best jumps to favor the Soviets, similarly to a number of other events.
Yuriy Sedykh (USSR) won gold in the hammer throw event. 4 of his 6 throws broke the world record of 80m. No hammer thrower in the world had ever achieved this before. As in Montreal the USSR won gold, silver and bronze in this event.
Evelin Jahl (GDR) the 1976 Olympic champion won discus gold again. She won with a new Olympic record – 69.96 metres (229 ft 6 in). She had been undefeated since Montreal.
SovietDainis Kula won gold in the men's javelin. He also had the best sum total of throws, showing his consistency. He finished ahead of his teammate Alexander Makarov.
Polish gold medallist pole vaulterWładysław Kozakiewicz showed an obscene bras d'honneur gesture in all four directions to the jeering Soviet public, causing an international scandal and almost losing his medal as a result. There were numerous incidents and accusations of Soviet officials using their authority to negate marks by opponents to the point that IAAF officials found the need to look over the officials' shoulders to try to keep the events fair. There were also accusations of opening stadium gates to advantage Soviet athletes, and causing other disturbances to opposing athletes.
Basketball was one of the hardest hit sports due to the boycott. Though replacements were found, five men's teams including the defending Olympic Champion United States withdrew from the competition in addition to the US Women's team.
In the Women's competition, the host Soviet Union won the competition beating Bulgaria for gold, Yugoslavia won bronze.
The Men's competition featured only the second instance of the US Men's Basketball team not winning gold with the first one being in Munich. Yugoslavia took home the gold beating Italy in the final. The hosts, Soviet Union, winners in 1972, won the bronze.
Teófilo Stevenson of Cuba became the first boxer to win three consecutive Olympic titles in heavyweight, and indeed the only boxer to win the same event in three Games. (László Papp from Hungary was the first boxer to win three titles). In boxing Cuba won six gold, two silvers and two bronzes.
The Val Barker Trophy is presented by the AIBA to the competitor adjudged to be the best stylist at the Games. The winner was Patrizio Oliva of Italy who won gold at light-welterweight.
Apart from the boycotted Los Angeles Olympics Birgit Fischer of East Germany won medals in each Olympics from 1980 to 2004. In the 500 metres kayak singles she won gold in Moscow, silver in Seoul, gold in Barcelona.
As Aleksandr Portnov waited to do a 2 and 1/2 reverse somersault in the springboard final, cheers broke out in three adjoining swimming pool during the closing stages of Salnikov's world record breaking 1,500m swim. The diver delayed his start until the noise had subsided but, as he took his first steps along the board, even greater cheers broke out as Salnikov touched in under 15 minutes. Under the rules Portnov, having started, could not stop before take-off. On protest to the Swedish referee G.Olander he was allowed to repeat the dive and went ahead again of Mexico's Carlos Girón. Later protests by Mexico against the re-dive and by East Germany that their Falk Hoffmann wanted to re-dive after allegedly being disturbed by photographic flashlights were both turned down by FINA. FINA President Javier Ostas stated that the decision taken by the Swedish referee was the "correct one”. FINA assessed all the Olympic diving events and considers the judging to have been objective". Portnov remained the winner with Giron taking silver and Cagnatto of Italy bronze.
Martina Jaschke (East Germany) was fourth after the preliminary high dives, but came back to win gold on the second day of competition.
Irina Kalinina (USSR) won gold in the springboard final. As a result of her ten dives in the preliminaries she amassed a unique number of points: 478.86. In the previous four years no diver had scored so many.
In this final the Mexican judge A. Marsikal allowed Karin Guthke (East Germany) to re-take a dive.
In the individual show jumping event Poland's Jan Kowalczyk and the USSR's Nikolai Korolkov each had 8 faults, but Kowalczyk won gold as his horse completed the course the quicker. So Poland won the last of the 203 gold medals contested.
The oldest medalist at the Moscow Olympics was Petre Rosca (Romania) in the dressage at 57 years 283 days.
Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin won a medal in each of the eight gymnastics events, including three titles. He was the first athlete to win eight medals at an Olympics. He scored several 10s, the first perfect scores in men's gymnastics since the 1924 Paris Olympics.
Nikolai Andrianov who had won gold on floor at both Munich and Montreal was pipped this time by Roland Bruckner of East Germany. Andrianov retained the vault title he had won in Montreal.
Zoltán Magyar (Hungary) retained the Olympic title on pommel horse that he had won in Montreal. He was also 3 times World champion and 3 times European champion on this piece of apparatus.
In the Team Competition the USSR won the gold medal for the eighth consecutive time, continuing the "gold" series that started in 1952.
In the women's gymnastics event finals, a Romanian gymnast medals on each piece of apparatus for the first time:
Six countries competed in the women's field hockey: Austria, India, Poland, Czechoslovakia, USSR, and Zimbabwe. The gold medal was won by the team of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe did not learn it would get a place in the tournament until 35 days before the Games began and chose its team only the weekend before the opening ceremony. None of their players had prior playing experience on an artificial surface. Soviet Union won bronze.
India won a record eighth title in men's field hockey. The Soviet Union won bronze.
East Germany dominated rowing, winning eleven of the fourteen titles. The East German men won seven out of eight events, foiled from achieving a clean sweep by Pertti Karppinen of Finland (who defended his Olympic title from Montreal). East German women won four of their six events.
In the rowing eights with coxswain the British team win silver just 0.74 seconds behind East Germany.
Soviet sailor Valentyn Mankin won a gold medal in "Star" class. He won Olympic champion titles in "Finn" and "Tempest" classes before, and as of 2007[update] remains the only sailor in Olympic history to win gold medals in three different classes.
Vladimir Salnikov (USSR) won three gold medals in swimming. He became the first man in history to break the 15-minute barrier in the 1500 metre freestyle, swimming's equivalent of breaking the four-minute mile. He missed the 1984 Games because of the boycott but won gold again in this event at Seoul 1988.
Salnikov also won gold in the 4 × 200 m relay and the 400m freestyle. In the 400m freestyle he set a new Olympic record which was just eleven-hundredths of a second outside his own world record.
In the Montreal final of the 400m freestyle the seventh and eighth place finalists finished in over four minutes. In Moscow sixteen swimmers finished in under four minutes and eight of them did not make the final.
Sweden's Bengt Baron won gold in the 100 meter backstroke.
In the men's 4 × 100 metres medley relay each of the eight teams taking part in the final broke its country's national record.
The first Australian gold since 1972 came in the 4 × 100 men's medley relay, with Neil Brooks swimming the final leg, the Australians swam the second-fastest time in history.
East German women dominated the swimming events, winning nine of eleven individual titles, both the relays and setting 6 world records. They also won all three medals in six different races. In total they won 26 of the available 35 medals. As it was revealed later, their results were aided by the state-sponsored doping system.
Barbara Krause (East Germany) became the first woman to go under 55 seconds for the 100 m freestyle.
Backstroker Rica Reinisch (East Germany) was 20th in the world rankings for 100m in 1979 and not in the top 100 for the 200 m. At the Olympics she broke the world records in both distances winning golds.
The standard of weightlifting was the highest in the history of the Olympics. There were eighteen senior world records, two junior world records, more than 100 Olympic records and 108 national records set.
The oldest of weightlifting's Olympic records – the snatch in the lightweight class set in 1964 – was bettered thirteen times.
Yurik Vardanyan (USSR) became the first middleweight to total more than 400 kg, he won gold.
In the super heavyweight class Vasily Alexeyev (USSR) Olympic champion at Munich and Montreal, eight-time world champion, who in his career set 80 world records, susrprisingly failed to medal.
Soviet weightlifters won 5 golds.
The new category in weightlifting – up to 100 kg – was won by Ota Zaremba of Czechoslovakia.
In the following list, the number in parentheses indicates the number of athletes from each nation that competed in Moscow. Nations in italics competed under the Olympic flag (or, in the cases of New Zealand, Portugal and Spain, under the flags of their respective National Olympic Committees):
^Flyvbjerg, Bent; Stewart, Allison; Budzier, Alexander (2016). The Oxford Olympics Study 2016: Cost and Cost Overrun at the Games. Oxford: Saïd Business School Working Papers (Oxford: University of Oxford). pp. 9–13. SSRN2804554.
^Cite error: The named reference Siukonen was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
^IOC records state Brezhnev opened the Moscow Games as "President", a title used at that time by the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, or de jure head of state. (The office of President of the Soviet Union was not created until 1990, a year before the nation broke up.) Though Brezhnev was also de facto ruler as General Secretary of the Communist Party, that title is not reflected in IOC records.
Official British Olympic Association Report of the 1980 Games, published 1981, ISSN 0143-4799
Corthorn, Paul (2013). "The Cold War and British debates over the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics". Cold War History. 13 (1): 43–66. doi:10.1080/14682745.2012.727799.
Evelyn Mertin, The Soviet Union and the Olympic Games of 1980 and 1984: Explaining Boycotts to their Own People. In: S. Wagg/D. Andrews (Eds.) East plays West. Sport and the Cold War, 2007, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 235–252, ISBN978-0-415-35927-6.