Games of the XXII Olympiad
19 July - 3 August 1980
The 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow represented the lowest point in the history of the Olympic movement. The Games were disrupted by a boycott led by US President Jimmy Carter, part of a package of actions to protest against the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Carter engaged in extensive arm-twisting to gain support from other nations. Some governments, like those of Great Britain and Australia, supported the boycott but allowed the athletes to decide for themselves whether to go to Moscow. No such freedom of choice was allowed US athletes, as Carter threatened to revoke the passport of any athlete who tried to travel to the USSR. In the end, 67 nations did not participate with 45 to 50 of these nations likely being absent because of the US-led boycott. Eighty nations did participate - the lowest number since 1956.
Only 11 Nations in the Equestrian Events
Riders from only 11 nations took part in the equestrian events.
From the top equestrian nations, only Austria, with the reigning European Dressage champion, Sissy Theurer, and Italy with its Eventing team, went to Moscow. There were, furthermore, two Finns and eight Mexicans in Eventing and Jumping and a Jumping rider from Guatemala. The starting fields were complemented by riders from socialist countries along with four Indian Eventers in colourful uniforms who, in their high level international debut, were all eliminated.
The organising committee had built an impressive 45-hectare venue in the south western Moscow suburb of Bitsevsk, featuring a Jumping stadium for 12,000 spectators and a Dressage stadium seating 3,000.
Games Facts & Figures
- 80 nations
- 5,179 athletes (1,115 women; 4,064 men)
- 21 sports
- 5,615 media(2,685 written press; 2,930 broadcasters)
- The Olympic Games were organised in a socialist country for the first time.
- British duel: British middle-distance runners Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe, the future chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012, faced each other in a memorable confrontation. In the 800m, Ovett won the gold medal ahead of his compatriot. Six days later, a determined Coe redeemed himself in the 1500m. He took the gold, while Ovett managed only a bronze.