1980 Boycott Damaged Only Athletes

What lessons can be learned from the more than 50 country boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games of 1980? The protest movement was led by American President Jimmy Carter to punish the Soviets for invading Afghanistan, but the Soviets would remain in Afghanistan for the next decade. It was the Olympic athletes who suffered the most from the largest political protest in history. From The Calgary Herald:

In January 1980, Dick Pound, then president of the Canadian Olympic Association, was summoned to 24 Sussex Drive for a difficult, face-to-face meeting with prime minister Joe Clark.

The world was on edge. The Iranian revolution was underway, there were escalating tensions between Pakistan and

India. And worst of all, the Red Army had marched into the little-known, independent nation of Afghanistan, sparking outrage around the globe.

In Ottawa, Clark and his external affairs minister Flora MacDonald informed Pound that Canada would join a campaign by U.S. President Jimmy Carter to boycott the Moscow Olympics that summer, to punish the Soviets for the invasion.

Dick Pound, then president of the Canadian Olympic Association, strongly objected when Prime Minister Joe Clark told him Canada was boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Dick Pound, then president of the Canadian Olympic Association, strongly objected when Prime Minister Joe Clark told him Canada was boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Photograph by : John Kenney, Canwest News Service