On December 27, 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with tanks and some 50,000 troops. Supporting the Communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, the Soviet Union was trying to suppress the Afghan independence movement led by mujahedeen insurgents and secretly aided by the United States. President Jimmy Carter responded in his January 1980 State of the Union address that “neither the American people nor I will support sending an Olympic team to Moscow.”
While President Carter did not have authority over the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), polls indicated overwhelming American support for a U.S. boycott. By April 1980, the USOC voted two-to-one to boycott the games. And while eighty nations sent athletes to the summer 1980 Moscow Olympics, some 65 nations—including the United States—did not attend.
Unfortunately politics had intersected sports, and many athletes suffered the consequences, having their Olympic dreams dashed.