On January 20, 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced a boycott of the Moscow Olympics and urged other countries to do so. The reason for the boycott was the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan. Such a move by Carter was largely dictated by his desire to add votes to himself in the run-up to the election: many U.S. citizens accused the president of excessive liberalism toward the Soviet Union. 63 more states, including Canada, Germany, Japan, Austria, responded to the call to boycott the Olympic Games in Moscow. The situation and political confrontation between the Warsaw Pact countries and NATO countries escalated. In the United States it was expected that the absence of
athletes from the leading countries of the West and China among the Olympic Games would make the Moscow Games a second-class event.
Three days before the opening of the Olympics, the then president of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samarancha, held talks and persuaded Italy, Great Britain, Spain to send their athletes for the Games in Moscow. From many countries taking part in the boycott, such as France, Great Britain, Greece, athletes came individually and performed under Olympic flags. Despite their best efforts, the Games in the USSR had the fewest number of participants, since the 1956 Olympics held in Melbourne. The
XXII Olympic Games of the year once again proved that the Olympics are not only sports competitions, but also political struggle between countries. Unfortunately, dozens of athletes from different countries of the world who dreamed of performing at the Olympic Games suffered from this struggle, but were unable to demonstrate their sporting achievements. Four-time Olympic champion Lisa Leslie commented: “Washington politicians have broken fate to many great athletes: some still regret the lost four years of life and others count their medals are not entirely complete.” Later, as expected, the USSR and its allies declared a boycott of the 1984 Olympics, which was held in the United States. Such decision affected the fortunes of many Soviet athletes as well, and soon the USSR team lost its leading position.