Olympic Marathon: A Centennial History of the Games' Most Storied Race

By Charlie Lovett | Go to book overview

21
The Games of the XXIII Olympiad: Los Angeles, 1984

In 1984, the Summer Olympics returned to American soil after fifty-two years and took up residence not only in the same city, but in the very stadium they had occupied in 1932. Although that stadium was only one of twenty- three Olympic sites scattered across southern California, it would serve as the setting for the Hollywood style Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the finish for the men's and, for the first time ever, women's marathons.

The Los Angeles Games were organized by a committee headed by businessman Peter Uberroth, who managed to turn the elaborate and far- flung spectacle into a money-making event, in spite of the fact that no local taxes were allocated for the Games. With American television prepared to beam live events into the homes of millions during prime time and with all the entertainment wizardry of California thrown behind the presentation of the Games, they looked to be the biggest and most glamorous ever.

Though some feared that the Soviet Union might boycott the Games in retaliation for the American led boycott of the Moscow Games, by late spring that threat seemed to have passed. Then, on May 8, 1984, the Russian National Olympic Committee issued a statement claiming that extremist groups in America were planning to make conditions unbearable for Soviet athletes and that American organizers were not planning to provide the Soviet team with sufficient security. For these reasons, the statement said, the Soviet athletes would not be able to compete in the Games. The claims made in the statement about protests and security seemed entirely fabri-

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