A consequence of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 was that the 1980 Olympic Games was the most boycotted in Olympic history.
Many nations saw the Moscow Games as an opportunity to register their
anger at the Soviet invasion without taking other steps which could adversely
affect their countries economically.
Led by the US, 62 nations, including West Germany and Japan, banned their athletes from competing.
Some Western governments, (including Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy and Sweden), left the decision whether or not to compete to individual athletes.
While other countries simply refused to attend the opening ceremony
to show their disapproval.
The Games proceeded despite the fact that 5217 athletes,representing 80 nations, did not attend.
The 1980 Olympics were the first Games to be held in a communist country. A new 103,000-seat stadium was constructed. Opened by Leonid Brezhnev, the opening ceremony featured hundreds of Soviet gymnasts who wore colourful traditional costumes of the Soviet republics. The gymnasts formed spectacular human pyramids in the main stadium.
There were 203 gold medals to be won,
but with so many Western nations not participating, these games were dominated
by the USSR and East Germany.
Security was also very tight. Track and field winners were physically
prevented from taking victory laps.
And there were many accusations made of biased judging by officials ,and poor sportsmanship.
Some of the Moscow spectators behaved poorly, booing the Poles
and East Germans.
The USSR won 195 medals including 80 gold medals.
East Germany won 126 medals (including 47 gold). This was the most one-sided result since 1904 when the US dominated the Games in St Louis.
Competition standards were certainly affected adversely as a result of the boycott.
There seems little doubt that Ed Moses(US) would have won the gold in the 400m hurdles
as he did in Montreal’76 and Los Angeles’84.
And though the 800m and 1,500m athletic events boasted the two best sprinters in the world,
Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe (both British),
their times were not impressive.
But even though these games were not of the highest standards,
they were certainly not sub-standard. Some great performances did eventuate.
The Soviet gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin became
the first athlete to win eight medals in the one Games.(This was a
world record for the most number of
medals won by a single athlete in any Olympic sport). Dityatin won 3 golds, 4 silvers and 1 bronze .
He also became the first male gymnast
to score a perfect 10. (in the horse vault event).
Nadia Comaneci of Romania,
returned to win two more gold medals and, Cuban heavyweight boxer,
Teofilo Stevenson became the first to win three consecutive gold medals
in the same weight division.
Great Britain’s ,
Francis “Daley” Thompson
won the decathlon gold. He went on to repeat the win in Los Angeles’84.
In the women’s pentathlon Nadia Tkachenko of the USSR, became the first athlete
to score more than 5000 points at an Olympics. She scored 5083 points.
In track and field, Miruts Yifter (nicknamed “Yifter the Shifter”),
of Ethiopia won the 5,000
and 10,000m .He won the latter with an amazing final lap of 54 seconds.
And Sebastian Coe (UK) won the 1500m , while Steve Ovett, (his great rival & team mate)
won over Coe in the 800m.
Italy’s Sara Simeoni won gold in the women’s high jump. She won silver in the same
event in Montreal’76.
The East German women dominated women’s swimming as they had in Montreal in 1976.
Led by Caren Metschuckwon (3 golds and 1 silver), they
captured 26 out of the 35 women’s swimming medals, taking a total of 11 of the 13 events.
Caren Metschuckwon won her 3 gold medals in the 100m and 200m backstroke, and in the 4x100m medley
The Soviet men,were led by Vladimir Salnikov. They won seven events.
Vladimir Salnikov became the first swimmer to break the magic 15 minute barrier in
the 1500m freestyle, in the time of 14:58.27 minutes.
In hockey,India won gold for the first time since 1964, while Zimbabwe beat Czechoslovakia
in the first Olympic women’s hockey competition.