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Los Angeles 1984


Los Angeles was the only city to submit a bid for the 1984 Games. Los Angeles hosted the Olympics for the second time in 1984, having previously hosted the Games in 1932. The 1984 Games were the first privately funded Olympics. The driving force behind Los Angeles' successful bid was the city's mayor Tom Bradley, while entrepreneur Peter Uberroth managed to attract more than 30 sponsors, who between them contributed more than $500 million.

ABC paid $22 million for the exclusive rights to televise the Games, thereby ensuring that most events started in the evenings during prime time television time. With all the money involved, critics felt that what had once been an amateur sports festival had been converted into a commercial spectacle.

The Games were overshadowed by the boycott imposed by the Soviet Union and many of its allies in retaliation for the USA-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics four years earlier.

Synchronized swimming and windsurfing made rheir Olympic debut at the Los Angeles Games.

During the Olympic Congress of 1981, the term "Olympic amateur" had been removed form the Olympic Charter. This gave individual sport associations the power to decide on eligibility for the Olympics, opening the door for high-profile professionals from sports such as soccer and basketball to appear at the Games. Among these were Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordan, and Brazil footballer Romario, who starred for the Brazilian Olympic soccer team.

Top Athletes

Daley Thompson

The American athlete Carl Lewis was the undoubted star of the Los Angeles Olympics. Lewis followed in Jesse Owens' footsteps by winning four Olympic titles, 48 years after Owens had triumphed in Berlin. Lewis emulated Owens' achievements exactly by winning gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump.

Only the Romanian gymnast Ecaterina Szabo won more medals than Lewis. The 17-year-old claimed four gold and a silver medal. Szabo scored a perfect ten in one round of the floor exercise event.

Britain's Daley Thompson defended his decathlon title successfully to become only the second athlete after Bob Mathias to do so. Thompson's countryman Sebastian Coe recovered from serious illness to defend his Olympic crown in the 1 500m. As in Moscow, Coe picked up a silver medal in the 800m, this time losing out to Brazil's Joachim Cruz. Cruz set an Olympic record on his way to the gold medal.

Nawal El Moutawakal became the first Moroccan woman to win an Olympic medal with her victory in the 400m hurdles.

The American 400m world record holder Edwin Moses, Olympic champion in 1976 in Montreal, secured his second Olympic title. Moses took the Olympic oath on behalf of the athletes at the opening ceremony.

Memorable Moments

The opening ceremony was an unforgettable spectacle. A crowd of more than 90 000 and a worldwide TV audience in the hundreds of millions watched the four-and-a-half-hour-long spectacle executed by more than 10 000 performers.

But the Los Angeles Games will also be remembered for one of the greatest controversies in Olympic history. Did Zola Budd trip Mary Decker? Video evidence was inconclusive but there’s no doubt that the Budd-Decker incident in the 3 000m race produced one of the most iconic Olympic Moments in Olympic track and field.

Budd was already a controversial competitor prior to the Los Angeles Games. The barefoot runner was born in South Africa, which was then banned from the Olympics due to its government’s apartheid policy. When Budd applied for British citizenship her request was expedited and she became a British citizen in time to compete in Los Angeles.

In the final of the 3 000m, with Budd slightly ahead of Decker just past the midpoint of the race, the two came in contact but neither broke stride. Moments later, however, Budd moved lower on the track and Decker stepped on Budd’s heel, causing Budd to stumble and Decker to trip over Budd.

Budd got up and continued but with boos of the crowd ringing in her ears, finished in seventh place. Decker remained down with an injured thigh. Romania’s Maricica Puica went on to win the race.

Decker angrily blamed Budd for the incident. Track officials initially agreed, disqualifying Budd for obstruction, but reversed their decision after reviewing tapes of the race.


Greg Louganis

Mary Lou Retton wowed the Los Angeles crowds. The American gymnast won her country's first individual all-around title. She also won silver medals on vault and in the team competition. She won bronze medals for her floor routine and on the asymetric bars.

Diver Greg Louganis won the highboard event and became the first diver to score more than 700 points in this event. Four days earlier he secured victory on the springboard with the highest ever margin of victory in this event.

The West German Michael Gross,who was nicknamed "the Albatross" because of the span of his outstretched arms, dominated in the swimming pool. Gross won the 100m butterfly and 200m freestyle, both in world record times. Canadian Alex Baumann (now the coach of Michael Phelps) won the 200m and 400m individual medley titles.

The American basketball team, led by Michael Jordan, won gold in the men's basketball competition

The Finnish rower Pertti Karppinen won his third consecutive gold medal in the single sculls event.

Tennis returned to the Olympics after an absence of 60 years, but only as a demonstration sport. Steffi Graf from Germany and Sweden's Stefan Edberg won the women's and men's singles respectively.

Position Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States of America 83 61 30 174
2 Federal Republic of Germany 17 19 23 59
3 Romania 20 16 17 53
4 Canada 10 18 16 44
5 Great Britain 5 11 21 37
6 China 15 8 9 32
7 Italy 14 6 12 32
8 Japan 10 8 14 32
9 France 5 7 16 28
10 Australia 4 8 12 24
Position Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
24 Kenya 1 0 2 3
31 Nigeria 0 0 0 0
34 Algeria 0 0 2 2
38 Egypt 0 1 0 1
45 Cameroon 0 0 1 1
47 Zambia 0 0 1 1

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