Boycott, records, doping: the hotly contested Olympic Games in Moscow

Boycott, records, doping
The hotly contested Olympic Games in Moscow

Even in 1980 the world is not okay. 41 years ago today, the Summer Olympics opened at the Central Lenin Stadium in Moscow. Over 40 countries are not included. They boycott the games, which also go down in history as the “Chemists Games”.

It was probably the most spectacular opening ceremony the Olympic Games had seen up to then. In the Central Lenin Stadium (today Luzhniki), which had a seat for 103,000 spectators, an entire stand block was equipped with extras on 19 July 1980. With brightly colored flags, the “Soviet people” created huge images to match what was happening in the stadium.

There something previously unseen happened at the first summer games in a communist state. When the athletes marched in, some nations ran behind the Olympic flag instead of their own. It was a sign of protest against the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan.

A total of 42 countries, including the pioneering USA, the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan, therefore decided not to take part in Moscow at all. The US government had previously failed to move the games to another location.

The USSR wins, world records tumble

For the German handball world champions around Heiner Brand or the decathlon world record holder Guido Kratschmer, a world collapsed with the boycott. “This competition was to be won,” said Kratschmer later of Daley Thompson’s Olympic victory. The British had not followed their American friends’ call for a boycott, any more than France, Italy, Sweden, Spain or Austria.

Of course, Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev did not miss the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

(Photo: imago stock & people)

“The boycott was one of the most famous, but most absurd, superfluous and politically and sportingly damaging events,” said the then NOK President Willi Daume, who probably lost his career if he resigned: he lost the IOC president election before the games against opponents of the boycott Juan Antonio Samaranch.

In terms of sport, the USSR (80x gold) and the GDR (47) benefited most from the absence of competition, they won more than half of the medals (321). The GDR 4x100m relay around Marlies Göhr set one of 36 world records in 41.60 seconds.

Nine years later, in an investigation, the Australian Senate came to the conclusion that no gold medalist in these games had not used prohibited means – and in 1980 Moscow called “the Chemists Games”.