Back to the Top News Newsfeed

Ghost Olympians: The saga of the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympics

Forty years ago, the United States boycotted an Olympic Games for the first and, to date, only time. This is the story behind President Jimmy Carter’s decision, and the lives it impacted.

Their hearts sank in stages. Months before an Olympic summer, at tracks and pools across America, with July bookmarked on bedroom calendars, worry began to creep. It blindsided athletes at bars and parents’ houses; at airports and the Olympic Training Center; at news conferences and hotels; in locker rooms and at school.

They were among the world’s best, and yearned for a chance to prove it.