On July 5, 1986, the world came to the city of Moscow to participate in the international sports competition named the Goodwill Games.
The summer games were conceived by US media mogul Ted Turner in response to the United States boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, and the Soviet Union's boycott of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, California.
Both of the boycotts were consequences of the Cold War era between the two superpowers in the early 1980s, which turned the Olympics into playground for politics. Turner’s mission was to try and soothe the tension between the US and the Soviet Union at a time when the world was on the brink of all out chaos.
Turner once said in an interview, “When I was a teenager, my dream was to win an Olympic gold medal. I participated in the sailing event four times in 16 years, but was unsuccessful. But taking part in international competitions, engaging with all sorts of people, I began to perceive the world differently. Through sport I developed love for the entire planet.”
The first Goodwill Games that took off in Moscow on this day in 1986 were held under the motto “From Friendship in Sport to Peace on Earth”. They featured 3,500 of the world's best athletes from nearly 80 countries and hosted the first meeting of US and Soviet athletes in ten years (since the Montreal Olympics in 1976). The Games were played out over 16 days and went off without a hitch. Soviet athletes dominated the competition, winning 241 medals, including 118 gold. The US finished with 42 gold and 142 medals overall.
Subsequently, the event was hosted by Seattle, Washington in 1990 and St. Petersburg in 1994.
With the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the Goodwill Games began losing their appeal, and failed to attract a television audience, having accomplished its original purpose. Turner’s company was reportedly losing millions of dollars by producing and broadcasting the competition. Nevertheless, the games were held in 1998 in New York City and at Lake Placid in 2000. The final games were staged in Brisbane, Australia in 2001, after which they were terminated forever.
Turner still considers the Goodwill Games to be his second-best creation, the first being the CNN news channel. He claimed that the friendships forged between athletes and officials of different countries, as well as the millions of dollars raised for charity funds, made the games successful.