After the US-led boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980, the inevitable tit-for-tat took place four years later in Los Angeles when the Soviet Union and 13 other countries snubbed the ’84 Games. That number was far fewer than the 67 nations who responded to the United States’ boycott call in 1980, but the quality of the athletes from the 14 countries was significant, as they made up nearly 60% of all gold medal winners in 1976.
With no Soviets or East Germans in their way, American athletes romped away with 83 gold medals, four times more than surprise second-placer Romania’s 20. Carl Lewis duplicated Jesse Owens’ 1936 feat by winning four gold medals in track and field.
The LA Games were the first to rely solely on private sponsorship, a move that initially met heavy criticism but eventually proved to be effective as organizers realized a profit of over $220 million. Since then, all future Olympic Games have followed this financing model.
The ’84 Games also saw the emergence of China as a future sports powerhouse as the Chinese bagged a surprising 15 gold medals. The Philippines, which joined the 1980 boycott, returned to the Olympics led by sprinter Lydia De Vega, dubbed Asia’s fastest woman for her gold medal performance in the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games. De Vega reached the quarterfinals of her pet event, the 100m dash, but the quality of the competition was just too great. (Source: Olympic.org and Olympic.ph)
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