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American Boycott In Afghanistan

Their country’s government. But still the boycott occurred, and soon more people and countries got involved. As the word of an Olympic boycott spread throughout the globe, opinions from athletes, countries, and the media started to form. Many of the American athletes opposed the ban, since they felt it was a waste of years of training. It also affected their families, as they were all excited to watch their family member participate in the legendary Olympic Games. But those who supported the Olympics had other priorities in mind.

They felt that if the boycott would support the end of Soviet control in Afghanistan, then they would be behind the boycott completely. They understood the hardships the Afghan people were going through, and wanted to help out in any way they could. But even still, athletes felt cheated out of medals and the experience of participating in an iconic Olympic Games in the U. S. S. R. In terms of the rest of the world, both the U. S. and the U. S. S. R. considered Western Europe crucial to the success of the Olympic Games.

The two oppositions were both hoping that their allies in Europe would follow suit, but the countries of Western Europe was the jackpot. Western Europe was filled with economic, athletic, and social powers, including Britain, Italy, France, Spain, and both West and East Germany. As stated earlier, Western Europe was mostly aligned with the Americans, so for any country from that region to participate in the Games would be an accomplishment. The French and British Olympic Committees decided to have their athletes compete in the Summer Olympics, which was a win for the Soviets, but the real prize was West Germany.

The U. S. and West Germany had friendly relations, so they wanted to show their alliance and support their cause, but the Chancellor also urged the government to continue Ostpolitik in the West German election year. Ostpolitik was a foreign policy to obtain friendly relations with countries that were from Eastern Europe or that were once under Communist rule. By not participating in the Games, their alliance with the Americans would strengthen but their progress gained in Ostpolitik could be lost, and vice versa. Eventually, the West Germans decided to not compete in the Olympic Games and sided with the Americans.

The boycott itself didn’t have the exact effect on the Soviets that the Americans had hoped for. President Carter anticipated a worldwide boycott, but that vision soon became just a fantasy. In total, 81 nations participated in the Olympic Games and 62 nations didn’t participate. Some nations protested the Olympic Games opening ceremony itself, but still competed in the Games. This was their effort of protesting the U. S. S. R. and their invasion of Afghanistan, but without interfering in the events the athletes had trained so hard for.

To get countries to participate in the Olympics, the Soviets offered “financial inducements” , such as free travel and board, tickets to shows, cars, and even cash. The Soviets went as far as kidnapping athletes to ensure they would compete in the Games. The Soviet media didn’t talk about any of the protests or even record it on camera. The Soviets didn’t want to mention anything regarding the boycott to their people, they wanted all focus on their Olympic Games and not on any distractions. In terms of global coverage of the Games, western nations significantly reduced their airtime of the Olympics.

The Soviets wanted the world to see who they were and to show the human side of their nation, but western nations denied them that. The U. S. media generally supported the boycott. Time Magazine writer Roger Rosenblatt stated that the “boycott had damaged the quality of the games” and that it would “punish Moscow more than any other single action short of war. ” The Soviet leaders and media led an anti-American propaganda campaign. They told their citizens that the United States didn’t participate in the Olympics because President Carter needed to gain popularity during the election year.

Their citizens couldn’t see the connection between the invasion of Afghanistan and the U. S. boycott, so they believed whatever their government told them. The Soviets limited the effect the boycott had on them, and therefore limited the success of the Americans. The initial main goal of the Olympic boycott was to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan, but once that didn’t work other they had to rely on other smaller goals to succeed. President Carter and his cabinet had been viewed as weak, but the threat and eventual follow through of the boycott restored respect for him and U. S. leadership.

The United States also used the “Olympics to further national political policy. ” Through their actions, the U. S. showed their willingness to sacrifice athletic and economic success for their core principles. In terms of athletic aspect of the boycott and the events themselves, neither the U. S. nor the Soviet Union won the boycott issue. The Kremlin wanted to the rest of the world to view them as a legitimate and serious nation, but the United States put an end to that by damaging the Soviets both economically and politically through the use of the boycott.

The Americans denied Russia the possibility for success in their political goals. The Soviets convinced some of the Western European countries to take part in the Olympics, which “embarrassed the Carter Administration,” but Carter gained support in the boycott from West Germany, the most important country to the boycott, Japan, China, and many other major nations throughout the world. The Soviets managed the Olympics well, as reports stated it was very organized throughout all the events and cities, but by the Americans getting 62 countries to not participate it lowered the total amount of visitors to the Games.

About half of the expected foreign spectators showed up to the Olympics, so the Soviets didn’t obtain their anticipated return economically. The boycott also lessened the competition and the spectacle itself. With many of the larger countries in the world not participating in the Olympics, it left out hundreds of the best athletes in their sport and opened the door for the Soviets. The U. S. S. R. dominated, winning 195 medals in total, 80 of them gold. They also broke many Olympic records, and go down in the history books without an asterisk.

More lasting effects of the Games couldn’t be determined until later. The main objective of the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics was to get the Soviets out of Afghanistan. They didn’t leave until Spring of 1988, when the Soviets withdrew all their forces from the country. No one claims the boycott led to the evacuation of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, but nonetheless it eventually happened. These Olympic Games were the first to bring together two of the major themes of the twentieth century: Olympism and Communism.

These Olympic Games became one of the only sporting events to join the people of the world along with the controversial ideals of the Soviet Union, all in one setting. Roger Rosenblatt of Times Magazine suggested the “U. S. won the Olympic Games without any medals. ” The United States, in the end, succeeded in their goal of using the Olympics as a “political instrument” to move the Soviets out of Afghanistan. They paved the way for other countries in the future to use sport for national policy. Hopefully someday the world won’t need to use the lives of those uninvolved to get their own problems solved.

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