Moscow Summer Games : Half Of Qualified Olympic Football Field Does Not Turn Out


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The full Olympic team of the DEUTSCHE DEMOKRATISCHE REPUBLIK, including the reigning gold medalist football squad of the German Democratic Republic, march triumphantly before a crowd of over 100,000 onlookers at the jampacked Grand Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium — the crown jewel of the famed Luzhniki Olympic Sports Complex in Moscow — during the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXII Olympiad on July 19, 1980.
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There was never any question that the East Germans were not going to show up in Moscow and defend the Olympic football gold medal won four years earlier. An estimated 400,000 heavily-armed Soviet occupation troops under the overall command of General Evgeny Ivanovski permanently stationed all across the country at that particular point in time helped to insure that the Deutsche Demokratische Republik would not be joining the boycott proposed by the something less-than-courageous President of the United States, Jimmy Carter. Other nations who were not in integral members of the Warsaw Pact, however, would have a high-profile decision to make.

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Altogether, a total of 65 nations that had been officially invited to the Games of the XXII Olympiad hosted by the Soviet Union elected not to turn up in Moscow for the Opening Ceremony or participate in any of the athletic events, for that matter. The number of participating nations (80) marked the lowest total at the Summer Games since 1956, ironically enough, the very same year that had seen the U.S.S.R. compete at the Olympics for the first time ever. A further 15 countries, in something of a much ‘softer’ protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, opted to march in the Opening Ceremony with the Olympic flag instead of the respective national flag and would also choose to raise the I.O.C. banner with the Olympic Hymn whenever an athlete of theirs was awarded a medal throughout the Moscow Games, as well.

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As far as the 1980 Karl Marx Football Tournament was concerned, exactly half of the countries that had successfully qualified for the Moscow Summer Games (7 out of 14) would ultimately join the Olympic boycott movement and have to be replaced :

UNITED STATES …….. CONCACAF replaced by ……… CUBA
ARGENTINA ……………. CONMEBOL replaced by …….. VENEZUELA
NORWAY …………………. UEFA replaced by ………………. FINLAND
EGYPT …………………….. CAF replaced by ………………….. ZAMBIA
GHANA ……………………. CAF replaced by ………………….. NIGERIA
IRAN ……………………….. AFC replaced by ………………….. SYRIA
MALAYSIA ………………. AFC replaced by ………………….. IRAQ

It is interesting to note that all three of the opponents who would be drawn in Group A with the host nation, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, had not originally qualified for the final football tournament at the 1980 Moscow Summer Games … but that would be another story.

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