Just as the Americans had boycotted Moscow, so the Soviet Union team refused to compete in Los Angeles.
Carl Lewis matched the achievements of Jesse Owens
Did you know? Lewis won nine Olympic golds in his career
While the Soviets said their decision was due to their dissatisfaction at security arrangements, it was generally seen as retaliation
With television rights fetching vast sums, some critics felt the Games had become over commercialised.
On the track, Carl Lewis matched the achievements of Jesse Owens 48 years before him by taking three golds.
He triumphed in the 100m, 200, 4 x 100m relay and the long jump.
However, doubt was cast over Lewis' Olympic record when it was later reported he tested positive for a stimulant in 1988.
Britain's Sebastian Coe and Daley Thompson both successfully defended their 1500m and decathlon titles while in gymnastics, Romanian Ecaterina Szabo won four golds and a silver medal.
Women's synchronised swimming was among the new events while a change to the Olympic charter allowed professional players to be eligible for the football competition.
A total crowd of 5.7 million was reported to have attended events at the Games.