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Carter Announces Olympic Boycott Threat January 20, 1980

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Coca Cola Commercial Promotes the 1980 Olympics (The One We Boycotted)

Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Spawns Olympic Boycott Talk.

Russians start invasion Christmas Day, 1979

The Soviet Union began its invasion of Afghanistan on Christmas Day, 1979. On New Years Day, 1980, with already more than 10,000 Russian troops engaged in heavy fighting near Kabul (eventually the Soviets would have more than 100,000 personnel deployed in Afghanistan), the New York Times reported that “West Germany’s representative at an emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization raised the question of whether the Western Allies might want to withdraw their participation in the Moscow Olympic Games this summer as a result of the Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan, a NATO official said.”

Or did he say that?

The next day, The Washington Post disclosed that “a West German government spokesman denied newspaper reports that its NATO ambassador was the one who had suggested the boycott. In the same article the Post reported that Lord Killanin, head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), “vowed to resist any political interference with the Olympics”.

On January 3, the New York Times reported that France did not support the idea of an Olympic boycott.

President Jimmy Carter in a nationally televised speech on January 4, outlined his plans for forcing the Soviets out of Afghanistan, he hinted at the possibility of an Olympic boycott.

Saudi Arabia became the first nation to officially withdraw from the Moscow Olympics. On January 6 the LA Times reported that a spokesman for the Saudi Royal made the announcement, citing Soviet aggression against the “friendly and brotherly Moslem nation of Afghanistan.

Day by day, more and more editorials were written, interviews were given, and opinions taken on the not yet officially proposed Olympic boycott. For the most part, politicians favored the boycott while athletes and Olympic officials opposed it.

Carter Goes on Meet The Press and Makes Olympic Boycott Threat Official

Finally, on Sunday Morning, January 20, Carter appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press. Bill Monroe led off the interview by asking Carter, “Mr. President, assuming the Soviets do not pull out of Afghanistan any time soon, do you favor the U.S. participating in the Moscow Olympics, and if not, what are the alternatives?”

To which Carter replied, “No, neither I nor the American people would favor the sending of an American team to Moscow with Soviet invasion troops in Afghanistan. I’ve sent a message today to the United States Olympic Committee spelling out my own position that unless the Soviets withdraw their troops, within a month, from Afghanistan, that the Olympic Games be moved from Moscow to an alternate site, or multiple sites, or postponed, or cancelled. If the Soviets do not withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, within a month, I would not support the sending of an American team to the Olympics.

Watch Carter’s Announcement about Olympic Boycott Threat

It’s very important for the world to realize how serious a threat the Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan is. I do not want to inject politics into the Olympics, and I would personally favor the establishment of a permanent Olympic site for both the summer and the winter games. In my opinion, the most appropriate permanent site for the summer games would be Greece.

This will be my own position, and I have asked the U.S. Olympics Committee to take this position to the International Olympics Committee and I would hope that as many nations as possible would support this basic position. 104 Nations voted against the Soviet invasion and called for their immediate withdraw from Afghanistan, in the United Nations, and I would hope that as many of those as possible would support the position I’ve just outlined to you.

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