In our article “History of the Olympic Games 1980” we will tell about the best Olympic Games in Moscow, we will tell about: boycott, symbol and results of the sporting event.
From July 19 to August 3, 1980, Moscow hosted the XXII Summer Olympic Games. For the first time in history, the opportunity to hold the most prestigious world competition was given to a country of the socialist bloc. The Soviet Union did its best to organize and hold an incredible sports festival on an exemplary scale. Of course, the Games were not quite full-fledged because of the boycott of some countries, but even now some experts call the Moscow Olympics the best in history. Let us tell you how it was held.
Boycott of the Olympics
The Games took place at the height of the Cold War. At the end of 1979, Soviet troops entered Afghanistan. Because of this, the United States and its allies decided to skip the Moscow Games in protest. The result was that the Olympics were held without teams from 64 countries, which undoubtedly upset sports fans. The economic loss was also significant: many foreign fans did not visit the USSR and did not use the services of local catering and hotel facilities. However, some athletes from countries that joined the boycott still competed at the Games individually, under the flag of the International Olympic Committee. These athletes won 26 gold medals.
The opening ceremony of the Games in Luzhniki lasted three hours and was impressive in its scale: the crowd consisted of 16,000 people. The Olympic flame was lit by basketball player Sergei Belov, and cosmonauts Leonid Popov and Valery Ryumin, who were in orbit at the time, addressed the participants of the event (the video was shown on the stadium scoreboard). This happened for the first time in history and could not fail to impress the audience.
The anthem and mascot for the ’80 Olympics
The symbol of the 1980 Olympic Games was so successful that it is remembered even now. Out of all the proposed ideas, they chose Misha the bear cub, whose image was created by children’s artist Viktor Ryzhikov. The organizing committee considered the forest dweller, who appears in many Russian folk tales, to be the embodiment of such qualities of athletes as strength, perseverance and prowess. Misha’s image could be seen on pennants, posters, stamps, stationery, postcards, envelopes and on the pages of printed publications. Souvenirs with him were instantly bought up, so much the public liked him.
A whole team of professionals worked on the sound accompaniment of the Olympics, it was one of the main stages of preparation for the Games. Vladimir Popov, deputy chairman of the organizing committee, determined the theme of the music. Many people remembered the Olympics with the song “Heroes of Sports” sung by Muslim Magomayev. The authors of the lyrics of this work (Alexandra Pakhmutova and Nikolai Dobronravov) forever imprinted in the memory of all Soviet citizens the words “We want to give all records our ringing names”.
Progress of the Games and results of the USSR
Within the framework of the Olympic Games, the participants played 203 sets of awards. The hosts of the Games were the leaders in the overall standings, and by a wide margin. They won 195 medals (80 of the highest value). The level of competition was incredibly high: 74 Olympic and 36 world records were set in Moscow. Alexander Dityatin from Leningrad took eight medals at once (three golds, four silvers and one bronze), thanks to which to this day he is the only athlete who managed to become the best in all kinds of artistic gymnastics in one Olympics. Gymnast Nelly Kim’s two gold medals gave her the status of five-time Olympic champion. The fifth highest medal of her career was also won by Nadia Comanec from Romania.
In general, the USSR athletes performed very brightly at the Olympics, held in their native land. No one expected any other development, as the entire state worked to support high-performance sports, and any place below the first was considered a loss.
Still, there were disappointments. Thus, the men’s soccer team of the USSR, which was the undisputed favorite of the tournament and consisted of the strongest players, in the semifinal match lost to the GDR (0:1), eventually awarded only bronze. The champion was the Czechoslovakian team, which defeated the East Germans in the final with a similar scoreline.
Surprisingly, Konstantin Beskov did not leave his post as head coach of the USSR national team after the failure at the Games. Four years earlier, the bronze medal at the Montreal Olympics was considered an insufficient achievement, and Valery Lobanovsky was relieved of his post as coach of the national team. Then in the semifinals Soviet players lost to the same team of the GDR, and in the duel for third place USSR managed to beat Brazil.
Unfortunately, because of the boycott at the Olympic Games in Moscow did not come to seven soccer teams, including Argentina. Soviet sports fans were deprived of the chance to see the young Diego Maradona play, who was making his first steps to world fame at the time
The USSR boxing team did not shine at the Games either, its representatives managed to win only one gold medal. The hosts lost to their opponents in six final bouts. Cuban boxers clearly dominated the tournament: they brought home six gold and two silver awards. It is noteworthy that since the late 1960s, Soviet coaches were sent to the Island of Freedom to help develop boxing in the friendly country.
Closing of Olympic Games
During the ceremony, many spectators in Luzhniki and in front of TV screens were crying. Mishka himself also shed a tear, as if he was sad because he had to say goodbye to a magnificent sports festival. To the now famous song “Goodbye, Moscow” performed by Lev Leshchenko and Tatiana Antsiferova, the eight-meter symbol of the Olympics soared into the sky above the capital in balloons. The directors of the ceremony put an exclamation point in the history of the 22nd Summer Olympic Games.
- Only 5,179 athletes took part in the competition. Only the Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956 (3,184 people) had fewer participants.
- The geography of the Games was not limited to Moscow. Soccer championship matches were held in Kiev, Minsk and Leningrad, Tallinn hosted sailing competitions, and a shooting tournament was held in Mytishchi near Moscow.
- Specially for the Olympics in the capital 78 objects were built, and it was not only sports arenas, which host competitions today, but also the terminal Sheremetyevo-2, hotels, as well as many other facilities.
- The 195 medals won by Soviet athletes in Moscow is an absolute record of the Olympics in the new history. At the 1904 Games in St. Louis, U.S. representatives won 229 medals.
- At the Moscow Olympics, all doping samples were negative, but in the West this fact is still questioned.
Four years later, the USSR would refuse to compete at the Los Angeles Games, arguing that the Soviet delegation would not be provided with adequate security. Almost all socialist countries, with the exception of Romania and Yugoslavia, would join the boycott.