chapter  1
The Russians Are Not Coming! The Soviet Withdrawal from the Games of the XXIII Olympiad
ByRobert Simon Edelman
Pages 28

It seemed like a good idea at the time. In 1974, East and West – Communism and Capitalism – had begun to mend fences. A series of bloody proxy wars still raged all over the world, but the emergence of superpower de´tente did mean that the threat of nuclear annihilation had diminished. Having lost out to Montreal in 1970, the USSR was once again bidding to host the Summer Olympics. Soviet sports officials had been dreaming of bringing the Games to Moscow since the late 1950s, but only in 1972 was the Party leadership fully convinced Soviet influence within the Olympic Movement was sufficient to mount a successful bid.1 After successfully hosting the World University Games in 1973, Moscow proclaimed itself ready for the world’s greatest mega-event, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed. In 1978, with no one else competing, Los Angeles was given the 1984 Olympiad. While each superpower had its own reasons for bidding, the IOC saw the choices as a way to affirm its continuing relevance in the era of detente.2 Yet, during the early 1980s peace did not break out. Instead, Coubertin’s great


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quadrennial festivals of global harmony were marred by the twin boycotts of Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984.