Plan of the Investigation
Sports play a vital role in the society, especially in uniting people. They have been used in various occasions has one of the strategies of bringing peace in war-affected regions. Historically, sports, and especially the Olympics, are known to be politics-free events. However, the 1980 Olympics in Moscow became pledge in the continued Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States (Bloodworth, 176). About one and a half years before the Olympics Games, the Soviet Union sent its army into Afghanistan, something that contributed to the escalation of the Cold War between the superpowers which had already lasted about 30 years. In the attempt to force the Soviet Union to recall its troops from Afghanistan, the United States initiated a boycott to Olympics Games (Corthorn, 50). Various countries, such as Japan, Philippines, China, West Germany, and Canada joined the boycott. Although France, the United Kingdom, and Greece allowed their athletes to participate in the games, they fully supported the boycotting countries. To the end, the paper will be focusing on discussing the extent to which the 1980 Olympics Games in Moscow were affected the Cold War tensions. Of particular interest is assessing the nature of the boycott and how it interfered with the games.
Summary of evidence
It is without doubt that Moscow Olympic Games of the year 1980 were affected by the Cold War tensions. Before the Cold War, it can be deduced that politics and sports had amalgamated and blended together from the time the Olympics was initiated in Greece. At no one time had it been predicted that international politics would affect in any way the spirits of the Olympics movement. This is because the Olympics mark the grand stage of all the sports in all the participating countries. That is to mean that the Olympics is the highest a sportsman can ever dream of reaching (Bloodworth, 176). The two superpowers, (Soviet Union and the United States) are on record to have held onto divergent economic, military, cultural, and political ideologies something that brought about the tension that was to last for over forty years starting from the year 1948 just after the Second World War. This can be attributed to the fact that each of the super power thought of itself as the best and had the best ideologies. But even with such divergent views and opinions as it has been indicated exceedingly, they often met in the sporting sports grounds without much difference. But that was not to happen for the 1980 Olympics where the Soviet Union was the host in their capital Moscow (Hill, 34).
According to Elise S. Wilson’s expose on this subject, it can be deduced that the Moscow Games were largely affected by the tension. A case in point is that since the games were being held in a communist country, the United States had opted to boycott the games. This was in protest to the Soviet’s decision to send its troops to Afghanistan the previous year as well as their aggression to other European countries like Hungary. As a result, it can be seen that the politics that was not meant to overflow to the much treasured sports had started to take effect (Corthorn, 50). The games were much politicized unlike the previous Olympics games to the point that the game’s history, prestige, and traditions were at risk of collapsing. It is with such reason that the United States together with Canada decided to boycott the all-important games.
Another way that the Moscow Olympics was affected can be denoted from the fact that for the first time ever, a single country was taking part in the games not competing against other countries as one, but rather taking part in the games and competing against each other. Germany is the country for it is on record to have athletes as the East and West German (Dyreson, 57). The Cold War politics was the sole cause for that, and anyone who still disbeliefs the effect the Cold War had on the games ought to get serious. The Eastern Germany entered the games on the side of the Soviet Union while the West Germany took part in the games from the side of the United States, France, and England. In his article, author Staff DW goes on to portray the seriousness or gravity the Cold War had on the Moscow Olympics (Bloodworth, 176). It asserts that although countries such as the United Kingdom, France, and Greece did support the United States boycott of the games although they themselves did take part in the games. Other countries such as Canada, Japan, China, and the Philippines supported the boycott and they did not allow their athletes to part in the games. Another aspect that clearly indicates how the games were affected by the Cold War was the fact that athletes from the countries that were in support of the boycott matched under the Olympic Flag rather than their own flags. That is the same way that the United States’ flag as not hoisted during the closing ceremony and instead, the flag of Los Angeles was a clear indication of the hostilities between the two countries (Corthorn, 65).
Evaluation of sources
Corthorn examines the events that triggered the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Of particular interest is how the United Kingdom took part in this failed boycott, in support of the United States (Corthorn, 47). According to the author, the UK government argued that the Soviet Union could have pursued other political options to deal with issues in Afghanistan. Similar opinions have been raised by Bloodworth, who also examined why the boycott is seen as a failure. Generally, these sources are important in this particular analysis, especially in assessing the historical background of the boycott, and its implications in the world of politics (Bloodworth, 176).
It is without doubt that Moscow Olympic Games of the year 1980 were affected by the Cold War tensions. The United States and the Soviet Union had been competing for supremacy even before the emergence of the Cold War. Eighteen months before the 1980 Olympic Games, the Soviet Union sent its troops to Afghanistan to support the communist government against the insurgents. Therefore, the United States, which was behind the insurgents in Afghanistan against the government, saw the Olympic Games in Moscow as an opportunity to display its supremacy through forcing the Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan (Hill, 65).
The boycott created different impressions, based on the perceptions of various stakeholders. Arguably, it can be perceived as a success and also as a failure, depending on who is assessing the issues. To the United States and its allies, it was a success because of the political implications. However, to the Soviet Union and its allies, the boycott was a failure because the United States failed to realize the main objective of the boycott. Undoubtedly, the United States managed to convince its allies to participate in the boycott (Biglow). Most of its allies, being led by Japan, Canada, Argentina, Philippines, Greece, and China decided to not take part in the participation until the demands put forth, the withdrawal of the Soviet Union’s troops from Afghanistan are met (Biglow). As a result, the 1980 Moscow Olympics Games holds the record of the lowest participants in the history of this event. It is approximated that more than 65 nations and regions that had been invited never honoured the invitation. Whereas some of these participants cited economic challenges as the reason for not attending, most of them followed the boycott initiative of the United States. Therefore, the United States and its allies managed to pass a strong message to the Soviet Union and its allies, especially as far as which party had a strong global influence.
Nevertheless, taking into consideration the political objectives of the boycott, it is evident that the entire initiative was a failure. As mentioned above, the decision to boycott was taken as a way of intimidating the Soviet Union to withdrawal its troops from Afghanistan (Dyreson, 77). This objective was never attained, despite major participants of the Olympics failing to honour their invitation. Instead, the Soviet Union’s decision to dispatch troops to Afghanistan marked the beginning of many years of civil war in Afghanistan, which the United States and its allies found difficult to deal with (Biglow). In fact, not all people in the United States were for the boycott. Besides, some major allies, such as France and the UK, perceived the boycott has having no meaningful implications, although they supported the United States in the boycott. Perhaps, this explains why the allowed their athletes to take part in the event.
Biglow William. The failed Carter Boycott of the 1980 Moscow summer Olympics. Global Research News, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/Big Peace/2014/02/10/The-Failed-Carter Boycott-of-the-1980-Moscow-Summer Olympics
Bloodworth, Jeff. "Dropping The Torch: Jimmy Carter The Olympic Boycott, And The Cold War." Canadian Journal Of History 47.1 (2012): 176. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.
Corthorn, Paul. "The Cold War And British Debates Over The Boycott Of The 1980 Moscow Olympics." Cold War History 13.1 (2013): 43-66. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Apr. 2014.
Dyreson, Mark. Crafting Patriotism for Global Dominance: America at the Olympics. New York: Routledge, 2009.
Hill Christopher R. The Cold War and the Olympic Movement. History Today Volume, Vol. 49(1), 1999.