The 1984 Summer Olympics (officially the Games of the XXIII Olympiad and also known as Los Angeles 1984) were an international multi-sport event held between July 28 and August 12, 1984 in and around Los Angeles, California. When Tehran, the only other interested city on the international level, declined to bid due to concurrent Iranian political and social changes, the IOC awarded Los Angeles the 1984 Games by default. This marked the second occasion Los Angeles hosted the Games, the first being in 1932.
In response to the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, fourteen Eastern Bloc countries, including the Soviet Union, Cuba and East Germany, boycotted the 1984 Summer Games; for differing reasons, Iran and Libya also boycotted. On May 8, 1984, the USSR announced its intention not to participate in the 1984 Games, citing security concerns and "chauvinistic sentiments and an anti-Soviet hysteria being whipped up in the United States". Despite the boycott, the 1984 Olympics attracted a record 140 participating nations, 60 more than those attending the 1980 Summer Games, which had experienced a far wider international boycott. However, the Los Angeles boycott influenced a large number of events that were normally dominated by the absent countries. Boycotting countries organized the Friendship Games, another large event which was held from June to September 1984; however, not even a single competition was held during the . Representatives of the organizing countries, particularly the USSR, underlined that it was "not held to replace the Olympics". Elite athletes from the U.S. and USSR would only compete against each other at the 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow, organized in response to the boycotts.
Where ambitious construction for the 1976 Games in Montreal and 1980 Games in Moscow had saddled organizers with expenses greatly in excess of revenues, Los Angeles strictly controlled expenses by using existing facilities except a swim stadium and a velodrome that were paid for by corporate sponsors. The Olympic Committee, led by Peter Ueberroth, used some of the profits to endow the LA84 Foundation to promote youth sports in Southern California, educate coaches and maintain a sports library. In 2010, the LA84 Foundation (known as the Amateur Athletic Foundation until 2007) led an initiative to raise funds to support high school sports in Los Angeles, in response to massive budget cuts in the school district. The 1984 Summer Olympics are often considered the most financially successful modern Olympics.
The host state of California was the home state of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who officially opened the Games; he had served as Governor of California from 1967 to 1975. The official mascot of the Los Angeles Games was Sam the Olympic Eagle. The logo of the Games featured five blue, white and red stars arranged horizontally and struck through with alternating streaks, and was named "Stars in Motion." On July 18, 2009, a 25th anniversary celebration was held in the main stadium, which included a speech by Ueberroth and a recreation of the lighting of the cauldron.
The selection process for the 1984 Summer Olympics consisted of a single finalized bid, with the International Olympic Committee accepting the bid of Los Angeles on May 18, 1978. A bid from Tehran was withdrawn before the selection. Los Angeles had unsuccessfully bid for the two previous Summer Olympics of 1976 and 1980. The United States Olympic Committee had at least one bid for every Olympics since 1944, but had not succeeded since the 1932 Los Angeles Games, the previous time a single bid had been issued for the Summer Olympics.
|Voting results for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games|
|Los Angeles||United States||Unanimous|
The 1984 Olympic Torch Relay began in New York City and ended in Los Angeles, traversing 33 states and the District of Columbia. Unlike later torch relays, the torch was continuously carried by runners on foot. The route covered more than 9,320 mi (15,000 km) and involved 3,616 runners, including 200 from the sponsoring company AT&T. Noted athlete and actor O.J. Simpson was among the runners, carrying the torch up the California Incline in Santa Monica.
Gina Hemphill, granddaughter of Jesse Owens, carried the torch into the Coliseum, completed a lap around the track, then handed it off to the final runner, Rafer Johnson, winner of the decathlon at the 1960 Summer Olympics. With the torch, he touched off the flame which passed through a specially designed flammable Olympic logo, igniting all five rings. The flame then passed up to cauldron atop the peristyle and remained aflame for the duration of the Games.
- The opening ceremony featured the arrival of Bill Suitor by means of the Bell Aerosystems rocket pack (also known as a Jet Pack).
- As a result of an IOC agreement designating the Republic of China (Taiwan) Chinese Taipei, the People's Republic of China returned to the summer Olympics for the first time since Helsinki 1952 and won 15 gold medals. In weightlifting, athletes from the Chinese Taipei and China teams won medals at the same event.
- Eleven athletes failed drug tests at the Los Angeles Games.
- Local Los Angeles artist Rodolfo Escalera was commissioned to create nine paintings depicting the summer Games that would later be turned into collectible plates and presented as "The Official Gift of the 1984 Olympics".
Track and field
- Carl Lewis, making his first of four appearances at the Olympics, equaled the 1936 performance of Jesse Owens by winning four gold medals, in the 100 m, 200 m, 4x100 m relay and long jump.
- Eighteen year old Zola Budd, a South African runner given British citizenship in order to dodge the apartheid-based ban on South African competitors, collided with home favourite Mary Decker-Slaney in the final of the 3000 m, causing the American to fall. With the crowd booing her for the rest of the race, Budd dropped back and finished well down the order. She was later cleared of wrongdoing and was also declared not culpable by Decker-Slaney.
- Edwin Moses won the gold medal in the 400m hurdles 8 years after winning in 1976.
- Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco became the first female Olympic champion of a Muslim nation, and the first of her country in the 400 m hurdles.
- Carlos Lopes, from Portugal, won the Marathon (2:09:21 – Olympic record that stood for 24 years). It was the first Gold Medal ever for Portugal.
- A marathon for women was held for the first time at the Olympics (won by Joan Benoit). The event was considered notable because of Swiss runner Gabi Andersen-Schiess, who – suffering from heat exhaustion – stumbled through the last lap, providing dramatic images.
- Daley Thompson apparently missed a new world record in winning his second consecutive gold medal in the decathlon; the next year his score was retroactively raised to 8847, giving him the record.
- Sebastian Coe became the first man to win consecutive gold medals in the 1500m.
- The first gold medal to be awarded at the Los Angeles Olympics was also the first-ever medal to be won by an athlete from China when Xu Haifeng won the 50 m Pistol event.
- Archer Neroli Fairhall from New Zealand was the first paraplegic Olympian at any Olympic Games, coming 35th in the Women's individual event.
- Synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics debuted in Los Angeles as Olympic events, as did wind surfing.
- Li Ning from the People's Republic of China won 6 medals in gymnastics, 3 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze, earning him the nickname "Prince of Gymnasts" in China. Li would later light the Olympic Cauldron at the 2008 Olympics.
- Steve Redgrave won his first title in rowing of the record five he would go on to win in five Olympic competitions.
- Victor Davis set a new world record in winning the gold medal in the 200-metre breaststroke in swimming.
- Mary Lou Retton became the first gymnast outside Eastern Europe to win the gymnastics all-around competition.
- In men's gymnastics, the American team won the Gold Medal.
- France won the Olympic soccer tournament, defeating Brazil 2–0 in the final. Olympic soccer was unexpectedly played before massive crowds throughout America, with several sell-outs at the 100,000+ seat Rose Bowl. This interest eventually led to the US hosting the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
- The Soviet-led boycott affected weightlifting more than any other sport: 94 of the world's top 100 ranked lifters were absent, as were 29 of the 30 medalists from the recent world championships. All 10 of the defending world champions in the 10 weight categories were absent.
- Future Dream Team members Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Chris Mullin were on the team that won the gold medal in basketball.
- Connie Carpenter-Phinney became the first woman to win an Olympic cycling event when she won the women's individual road race.
- Main article: Venues of the 1984 Summer Olympics
Los Angeles venues
- Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – opening/closing ceremonies, athletics
- Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena – boxing
- Dodger Stadium – baseball
- Pauley Pavilion, University of California, Los Angeles – gymnastics
- Eagle's Nest Arena, California State University, Los Angeles – judo
- Olympic (McDonald's) Swim Stadium, University of Southern California – swimming, diving, synchronized swimming
- Olympic Village (athlete housing), University of Southern California
- Los Angeles Tennis Center, University of California, Los Angeles – tennis
- Athletes Village, University of California, Los Angeles
- Albert Gersten Pavilion, Loyola Marymount University, Westchester, California – weightlifting
- Streets of Los Angeles – athletics (marathon)
Southern California venues
- El Dorado Park, Long Beach, California – archery
- The Forum, Inglewood, California – basketball
- Lake Casitas, Ventura County, California – canoeing, rowing
- Olympic (7-Eleven) Velodrome, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, California – cycling (track)
- Mission Viejo, Orange County, California – cycling (individual road race)
- Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California – equestrian
- Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, Rancho Santa Fe, California, California – equestrian sports (eventing endurance)
- Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, California – fencing
- Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California – football (final)
- Titan Gymnasium, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California – handball
- Weingart Stadium, East Los Angeles College, Monterey Park, California – field hockey
- Coto de Caza, Orange County, California – modern pentathlon (fencing, riding, running, shooting)
- Olympic Shooting Range, Prado Recreational Area, Chino, California – shooting
- Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, California – volleyball
- Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California – water polo
- Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California – wrestling
- Long Beach Shoreline Marina, Long Beach, California – sailing
- Artesia Freeway – cycling (road team time trial)
- Heritage Park Aquatic Center – modern pentathlon (swimming)
- Santa Monica College – athletics (marathon start)
- Santa Monica, California – athletics (marathon)
- Harvard Stadium, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts – association football preliminaries
- Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland – association football preliminaries
- Stanford Stadium, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California – association football preliminaries
Athletes from 140 nations competed at the Los Angeles Games. The following countries made their first Olympic appearance in 1984: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, British Virgin Islands, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Grenada, Mauritania, Mauritius, North Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and the United Arab Emirates. The People's Republic of China made their first appearance in a Summer Olympics since 1952, while for the first time the Republic of China team participated as Chinese Taipei.
The Soviet Union led the Warsaw Pact and other Communist and Socialist countries on a boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics, in retaliation for the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow over the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Three Socialist countries disregarded the boycott and attended anyway: Yugoslavia (which hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics), the People's Republic of China, and Romania. The fact that Romania, a Warsaw Pact country, opted to compete despite Soviet demands led to a warm reception of the Romanian team by the United States. When the Romanian athletes entered during the opening ceremonies, they received a standing ovation from the spectators, which comprised mostly U.S. citizens. Romania won 53 medals, including 20 golds, more than the nation has in any other Olympics.
Los Angeles as host city
Following the news of the massive financial losses of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, only Los Angeles and New York City expressed serious interest in hosting the 1984 Games. Given only one city per country is allowed to bid for any Games, the USOC vote for an American bid city was essentially the deciding vote for the 1984 Olympics host city. In this case, Los Angeles's bid won by a vote of 55 to 39. New York City's 1984 bid fell just 9 votes shy of winning the Games and is the closest the city has ever come to becoming a host city for the Olympics, coming even closer than they did in their 2012 bid.
Los Angeles is the only US city to host the Summer Olympics twice.
The low level of interest among cities was seen as a major threat to the future of the Olympic Games. However, with the financially successful Los Angeles Games, cities began to line up to be hosts again. The Los Angeles and Montreal Games are seen as examples of what to do and what not to do when organizing the Olympics, and serve as object lessons to prospective host cities. While Montreal organizers ran up a substantial debt eight years earlier by constructing many new, overly ambitiously designed venues, the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee relied heavily on the use of area venues that were already in existence, particularly Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was also the Olympic Stadium for the 1932 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Velodrome and the Olympic Swim Stadium, funded largely by the 7-Eleven and McDonald's corporations respectively, were the only two new venues constructed specifically for the L.A. Games. The resulting low construction costs, coupled with a heavy reliance on private corporate funding, allowed the Games to generate a profit of more than $200 million, making them by far the most financially successful in history.
In addition to corporate support, the Olympic committee also made use of the burgeoning prices being paid for exclusive television rights. Starting with the Los Angeles Games, these contracts would be a significant source of revenue. Adjusted for inflation, the Los Angeles Games received twice the amount received by the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics and four times that of the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. Because these contracts were signed well in advance of the Games, Los Angeles found itself in an easier planning position as most of its revenue was already assured before the Games.
- Burns, John F.. "Protests are Issue: Russians Charge 'Gross Flouting' of the Ideals of the Competition", May 9, 1984.
- A Message from LA84 Foundation President Anita DeFrantz: Saving Los Angeles High School Sports
- Abrahamson, Alan. "LA the Best Site, Bid Group Insists; Olympics: Despite USOC rejection", Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2004. Retrieved on August 17, 2008.
- Past Olympic host city election results. GamesBids. Retrieved on 15 March 2011.
- Reuters – Li Ning, "Prince of Gymnasts" and businessman – Aug 8, 2008
- No Olympics No Problem by Andrew H. Levin. April 27, 2007. page 27. Accessed 2009-07-24. Archived July 26, 2009.
- Shoval, Noam. "A New Phase in the Competition For The Olympic Gold: The London and New York Bids For The 2012 Games." Journal of Urban Affairs 24.5 (2002): 583–99.
- Olympic Review 1984 – Official results
- Video of President Reagan declaring Games open, and torch-lighting by Rafer Johnson
- Logos - A collection of logos featuring this event.
- Torch - Information about this Olympics' torch.