On May 8, 1984, the Soviet Union announced that it would not compete in the XXIII Olympic Games held in Los Angeles. The official reasons were given as concerns over the safety of athletes, but in fact, many considered this as a response to the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
Months before the 1984 Olympics were to begin, the Soviet media published a statement from the USSR National Olympic Committee stating "It is known from the very first days of preparations for the present Olympics, the American administration has sought to set course at using the Games for its political aims. Chauvinistic sentiments and anti-Soviet hysteria are being whipped up in this country."
In the weeks following this, a total of 14 countries (mainly socialistic) joined the USSR and refused to attend the 1984 Olympics, including Afghanistan, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, North Korea, and Vietnam.
The US boycotted the Moscow Olympics in 1980 in protest over Soviet military action in Afghanistan. President Jimmy Carter called for the boycott, issuing an ultimatum that the US would skip the Moscow Olympics if the USSR continued their “aggressive actions”. The Soviet troops remained, and the States, along with 60 other nations, did not send its athletes to the Olympic Games that year.
But the Los Angeles boycott in 1984 did not reach the same numbers as the Moscow one. Only 80 nations came to Moscow compared to 140 that came to California. Despite this, the participating athletes at the Moscow Olympics set 74 Olympic records and 36 world records.
Although the Olympics have become a playground for politics, boycotts made no difference to the countries’ diplomatic relations, but unfortunately, the impact on the games themselves was great. Many of the world’s top-ranked athletes missed out, and as a result the games held in Los Angeles were not as impressive as many had hoped, and the level of competition was low.
As an alternative for the Los Angeles games, the Soviet Union and other socialist states organized their own “Druzhba-84” or the “Friendship Games” held in nine different countries under the motto “Sport, Friendship, Peace." Almost 50 nations participated in this event and 48 world records were set.