Olympics America Didn’t Get To See

30 years ago today 10-year-old me was sitting in front of our 12-inch black-and-white TV watching the opening ceremonies of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. It’s safe to say that everyone else in the country was doing the same. Even though we had only 3 TV channels at that time and many shows enjoyed close to 100 percent rating, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Moscow Olympics were probably some of the most watched events in the Soviet TV history. Unfortunately outside of the Socialist-friendly countries not too many people had a chance to see any of the 1980 Summer Olympics and it’s a shame because the USSR, anxious to show the triumph of the socialist system made them some of the most enjoyable and sincere ceremonies in the Olympic history. Since then many countries used complex scenarios and spectacular special effects but none has achieved the level of pure joy and emotional connection the Soviet people managed to build into their Olympiad.

Even today, so many years later, it’s one of the most nostalgic moments in the lives of my generation. Many people remember the games, beautiful opening ceremony and a tearful closing, a rare glimpse into Western life, with the first Soviet-made Pepsi, never-before-seen imported foods, crowds of foreigners, new construction in Moscow. Others talk about the measures the government took to round up and deport the homeless (and prostitutes) out of the city for the duration of the games, or how many parents received heavy-handed suggestions to send their kids to the out-of-town summer camps away from the “danger”. I didn’t know any of that at the time, and probably didn’t care being 10. All I remember is the summer, beach, friends, little cabin we rented near the sea, and a small TV. A happy place, long time ago, far away from here.

Olympic Presentation:

Athletes entering the stadium:

Views of Moscow:

Moscow getting ready for the Olympics:

A 25-minute video of the Olympic torch and the Opening ceremonies.

  • Chimpo

    At first glance, I thought these were the Furry Olympics. My enthusiasm lowered as I went on.

  • I think you have something there

  • It’s fascinating that any country would keep their athletes out of there to make a statement. Hell, we went to Germany in ’36.

  • Rick in PV

    Sure, you remember it fondly because we (USA! USA!) weren’t there to kick your Soviet asses all over the field … ironic, isn’t it, that the reason we boycotted was because you had invaded Afghanistan!

    • Rick, remember we didn’t show up for the ’84 Olympics so you could feel like winners for once. And Afghanistan lasted 10 more years so this boycott wasn’t very effective at all.

  • You dares not to mention Estonia in a post about THE olympics! my proud motherland hosted the watergamethingy part of the Games! the hotel – Olympia – and a whole sport ‘complex’ are still there as living proof.

    And I can only recall my mum making an amazing cake called ‘Olympic Teddy’ in the years following the games..it was basically a Napoleon, but shaped like a teddy. Creativity, eh

  • Sorry, Estonia was so far away from the rest of the Olympics it could as well be conducted in a different country. They didn’t even use the bear, they had some wierd (non-cute) marine animal 🙂