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1984: Moscow pulls out of US Olympics

Twelve weeks before the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles Olympic Games, the USSR has announced it is boycotting them. It is expected most of the Eastern Bloc will follow suit.

The announcement, which was made on Russian TV this afternoon, blamed the commercialisation of the games and a lack of security measures, which amounted to a violation of the Olympic charter.

The Soviet Union accused the United States of using the games "for political purposes" and "stirring up anti-Soviet propaganda" and of having a "cavalier attitude to security of Russian athletes".

In 1980 the USA and more than 60 other countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Top athletes

The Russians' withdrawal will devalue the Los Angeles Games far more than the US boycott as it seems certain that top-class athletes from the Eastern Bloc will also be prevented from taking part.

The White House denounced the move calling it a "blatant political act".

John Hughes, a State Department spokesman, said the USA had "gone the extra mile" to ensure adequate security measures were in place.

He took the opportunity to attack the USSR for its "barbarous behaviour" in Afghanistan and its persecution of Russian dissidents such as Dr Andrei Sakharov living in forced exile in the Russian town of Gorky.

Moscow has still not officially told the IOC of its boycott but there is little hope that the decision will be reversed.

In Context
With the exception of Romania, the entire Eastern bloc and Cuba joined the boycott - 14 countries in all.

Although a record 140 nations did turn up - including China which had not taken part since 1932 - the level of competition was somewhat lopsided with the absence of so many world-class athletes.

As a result the USA won a record 83 gold medals.

The Los Angeles Summer Games were highly commercialised - they were the first privately financed games ever and made a profit of $225m thanks to corporate sponsorship and extensive use of unpaid volunteers. Forty-three companies were licensed to sell "official" Olympic products.

Los Angeles launched a bid to host the Olympic Games for a record third time in 2012 but the US Olympic Committee chose New York as its candidate.

LA will however host the 2006 athletics world cup.


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