January 1, 1984 - 1984 Summer Olympic Boycott

By Megan Owen

In 1984, the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The Soviet Union claims that the boycott was to protect their athletes from protests and riots. The Soviet Union believed that the Reagan administration “does not intend to ensure the security” of Soviet athletes and was in direct contact with extremist organizations seeking to create “unbearable conditions” for the athletes. The Soviet Union doubted that American officers would contain protests or attacks against their athletes.

Although a Soviet spokesperson stated that the Soviet Union had no intention of boycotting Los Angeles games in retaliation of 1980 Olympic Games, Americans believed it was an obvious response to the 1980 Olympic Games, in which the United States and other countries boycotted. The Reagan administration was accused of wanting to use the Olympic Games for “political aims” against the Soviet Union. However, a Whitehouse spokesperson claimed that the United States had gone out of their way to accommodate Soviet Athletes. Ronald Reagan claimed the boycott was “a blatant political decision for which there was no real justification.”

The diplomatic impact was small, but there was a large impact for the Olympic Games. Without competition from the Soviet Union, East Germany, and other communist nations, the United States swept to an Olympic record of 83 gold medals. Along with the Soviet Union, 13 other countries boycotted the 1984 Olympic Games including Germany and Poland.



Doder, Dusko. “Soviets Withdraw From Los Angeles Olympics.” Washington Post. Last modified May 9, 1984. Accessed May 27, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1984/05/09/soviets-withdraw-from-los-angeles-olympics/027363e6-4d89-4dd9-b0d7-89a05a567f11/.

History.com Editors. “Soviets announce boycott of 1984 Olympics.” HISTORY. Last modified November 2009. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/soviets-announce-boycott-of-1984-olympics.