Jimmy Carter Announces The 1980 Olympics Boycott

By | March 17, 2020

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The opening ceremony of the 1980 Olympics. (RIA Novosti archive, image #487025 / Sergey Guneev / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

This summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo are currently in limbo because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it's not the first time that the United States did not participate in the Summer Olympics. In 1980, then-President Jimmy Carter announced that the U.S. would not send any teams to that year's Summer Olympics, held in Moscow, in protest of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Let's take a look back at the 1980 Olympics boycott, how it started, and how it all shook out.

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The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan began on December 24, 1979. (csef.ru)

The Soviets Invaded Afghanistan

In the late 1970s, Afghanistan was rocked by internal conflict and political unrest, and a new communist government took advantage of the upheaval by seizing power and building strong ties with the neighboring Soviet Union. Anti-communist Muslim groups, backed by the United States, sought to overthrow the new communist leaders, so on Christmas Eve 1979, the Soviet Union sent more than 30,000 troops into Afghanistan to keep the Soviet-approved president of Afghanistan in power. The conflict quickly settled into a stalemate.