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The California Activists Who Scared the Soviets Away From the 1984 Olympics

The California Activists Who Scared the Soviets Away From the 1984 Olympics



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The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics have been the first Games in 34 years that Russia has not, technically, attended. After a years-long doping scandal, the International Olympic Committee stripped Russia of 41 medals and formally banned them from this year’s games, leaving their athletes to compete under the clunky banner of “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

But 34 years ago the then-Soviet Union had a perhaps even more dramatic reason for not coming to an Olympic Games: they believed that American radicals were going to kidnap all of their athletes.

In 1984, a ragtag group of right-wing businessmen, advertising executives, and Soviet bloc immigrants hatched a plot in the sprawling suburbs of Southern California. The Los Angeles Olympics, just weeks away, had been designed to extol the merits of the free market: they’d be privately funded, run by businessmen, and if all went according to plan, would end with an unprecedented surplus of cash.

This grassroots group, known as the Ban the Soviets Coalition, had a different goal: keeping the Soviet Union athletes out of Los Angeles at all costs.

The Ban the Soviets Coalition recognized they might not be able to completely thwart the Soviet team. The Soviet Union had sunk billion of rubles into their athletic programs, viewing success on the Olympic stage as a validation of the communist system. So the coalition also had a Plan B: if the Soviets showed up they would attempt to trigger a mass defection, encouraging all the Soviet athletes to claim asylum in the United States.

Russian-language billboards would line the Los Angeles highways, offering instructions on how to claim asylum. “This is the Land of Liberty and This is a Telephone Number You Can Call,” read one proposed street sign. Safe houses would be established throughout Los Angeles, where fleeing athletes could find a place to stay and receive legal support. The Coalition claimed that its operatives had already begun to infiltrate the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and were well placed to assist defectors.

It was a radical plan, and a plan that few believed they could actually carry out. But it hit on a legitimate fear during the Cold War: defection of athletes. Athletes had been using the Olympics as a pathway to claim asylum for decades, with as many as 117 athletes defecting at the 1972 Munich Olympics. At the 1976 Olympics, a 17-year old Soviet diver named Sergei Nemtsanov attempted to defect to Canada. The Soviet delegation insisted the youth had been “brainwashed” and threatened to withdraw the Soviet team from the Olympics unless he was returned by Canadian authorities (two weeks later, Nemtsanov elected to return home). The entire episode was an enormous embarrassment for the Soviet team, and not one they were eager to repeat.

The Ban the Soviets Coalition was born out of tragedy and geopolitics. On September 1, 1983, Soviet jet fighters shot down a Korean Airlines passenger flight in Russian airspace, killing 269 passengers. Within days, Reagan had suspended all Soviet airline flights into the U.S. and abandoned other bilateral agreements. Yet for some Americans, including those who who comprised Reagan’s white, conservative, suburbanite base, these actions were insufficient, “a slap on the wrist.” Keeping the Soviets out of the Olympics, they argued, would be an important symbolic gesture. If they could not be a responsible part of the international community, why should their presence be welcomed at a sporting event premised on the idea of peaceful global exchange?

More than 100 groups rallied behind the Ban the Soviets banner. Some were Republican political groups, like the Conservative Caucus and the Young Americans for Freedom, while others were associated with Soviet bloc ethnic groups, like the Elderly Korean American Association of Orange County and the Baltic American Freedom League.

It didn’t take long for the Soviet media to catch wind of the Ban the Soviet Coalition’s plans.

“People will be seized and whisked away to clandestine hide-outs,” wrote the Literary Gazette, a Kremlin weekly. “And there all conceivable methods will be used to extort from them betrayal of their motherland. They will be wrapped in the Stars and Stripes–all in the light of the Olympic flame.”

The head of the Soviet Olympic Committee accused U.S. government officials of working alongside the Ban the Soviets Coalition to ”terrorize” and ”kidnap” Soviet athletes. Further, he claimed there were plans to use ”psychotropic” drugs to secure the defections of the Soviet athletes. Another Soviet newspaper suggested that the dissenters be kept in “some remote and quiet place” for the duration of the games—a very Soviet solution.

For Peter Ueberroth, the chairman of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, this was a worst case scenario: a diplomatic guerilla war waged by a private citizens’ group, threatening to destabilize the games just weeks before the Opening Ceremonies. Ueberroth dismissed the coalition as “a nutty group,” and assured everyone involved that the Ban the Soviets Coalition were fringe extremists, not a legitimate threat to athletes. Their plans were almost certainly implausible given their $50,000 budget, Ueberroth insisted.

“I called them nutty at one time.” Ueberroth said to Sports Illustrated. “I said I would change and apologize if they’d change their name to a proper one. Maybe call themselves the Coalition to Hurt Athletes or maybe the Coalition to Play into the Hands of the Soviets.”

Still, the Soviets demanded that President Reagan formally condemn the actions of the Coalition, a political maneuver the president was highly unlikely to make. The Ban the Soviets Coalition was the same sort of grassroots, Southern California group that had propelled Reagan to both gubernatorial and presidential victories, made up of white, Evangelical, business-savvy voters with extreme anti-communist beliefs, a demographic historian Lisa McGirr called “suburban warriors.” To condemn the Coalition would snub his base, as well as legitimize the threat of a group the Olympics coordinators insisted was a fringe group of nobodies.

On May 8, 1984, the will-they-or-won’t-they tension ended with an announcement from the Soviets: they would not be coming to Los Angeles. Most of the Soviet bloc countries soon followed suit. The Soviet Union carefully labeled their choice as “nonparticipation,” distinguishing it from a boycott and insisting that their decision was intended to protect, rather than to politicize, the Games.

In its official statement, the Soviet Union said it was pulling out of the Games because the United States could not guarantee the safety of Russian athletes. The United States authorities were guilty of ”connivance” with ”extremist organizations” who were trying to create ”unbearable conditions” for Soviet athletes and coaches, the Soviets said. It was a clear gesture towards the activities of the Ban the Soviets Coalition.

On the day of the “nonparticipation” announcement, four of Moscow’s newspapers carried letters from readers, in “a carefully orchestrated campaign to show public support for a boycott.” One letter spoke of the ”terror” that athletes would face in Los Angeles. All agreed that the Soviet team would not be safe from American radicals and must stay away.

But to what extent did the actions of the Ban the Soviets Coalition actually influence the Soviet’s decision to withdraw from the Olympics? In the minds of the Coalition’s leaders, their plot was the deciding factor. “When we began, everyone said we could not get the Soviet Union out,” their spokesperson boasted. “But we did it against great odds. We were responsible for them dropping out.”

“I’m sure they decided to pull out because the U.S. would not muzzle our coalition and agree to turn defectors back over to the KGB, which was probably the major reason they withdrew,” he added.

However, the activities of the Coalition were far from the only issue on which Soviets and the LAOOC clashed. The Soviet Union wanted its athletes to stay aboard a ship they would dock in the Los Angeles Harbor, rather than in the Olympic Village—an idea the U.S. was predictably less-than-thrilled about. The Soviets also expressed concerns about the lack of foreign judges, fearing their athletes wouldn’t receive objective scoring.

Most commentators at the time saw the Soviet’s withdrawal as simply an act of revenge—payback for the embarrassment of the U.S. withdrawal from the Moscow games four years prior. The New York Times’ Moscow correspondent reported, “The Soviet withdrawal from the Los Angeles Olympics is nothing more than paying America back in kind for its boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow… The American boycott, as intended, was a devastating blow to Soviet pride.”

The “revenge thesis” is less believable to some historians. Robert Edelman, Professor Emeritus at the University of California-San Diego, has argued that the local and federal dismissal of Soviet concerns about radical groups was central to the withdrawal, rather than mere posturing. Archives opened after the collapse of the USSR revealed that the Soviets expended great resources to prepare their athletes for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. “Ultimately, it was fear of this less than fearsome group and State Department resistance that led the Politburo to keep their athletes home,” Edelman writes.

In the months that followed the “nonparticipation” decision, the Ban the Soviets Coalition quickly crumbled; they’d accomplished their goal, and most members moved on to other anti-communist causes. Despite the near-miss with a defection crisis, the Los Angeles Olympics were remembered as perhaps the most successful in history, ending with a stunning $232.5 million surplus and Peter Ueberroth as Time magazine’s “Man of the Year.”

But the Games also solidified what most observers already knew to be true: in the modern era, there was no way to fully separate the microcosm of the Olympics from the conflicts, tensions, and crises of the world at large.


A red, white and blue Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984

EDITORS — With the Tokyo Olympics postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press is looking back at the history of Summer Games. Here are some of the highlights of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

The streak kept growing, something Edwin Moses was reminded of every time he stepped on the track. By the time he got to Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympics it had been seven years and 104 races since someone had finished ahead of him in the 400-meter hurdles.

Nobody could beat Moses. That’s just the way it was, which made it foregone conclusion among most in track and field that the gold medal would be his.

That the Soviets wouldn’t be there because of a revenge boycott made it even more of a lock. Same with the East Germans, and their weirdly muscular bodies.

But Moses still had to deliver in the Olympic final on a beautiful Sunday evening at the LA Coliseum. And one of the greatest track athletes of all time did just that, grabbing such a big lead he was able to ease up at the finish line to collect his second Olympic gold medal.

“I took nothing for granted because there was no margin for errors,” Moses said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “You’re jumping over things at a high rate of speed, and anything could happen.”

Moses did stumble over some of the words to the athlete’s pledge he was picked to recite to open the games, so the Olympics weren’t perfect for him. But after winning gold in Montreal in 1976 and then losing a chance to compete when the U.S. boycotted the 1980 games in Moscow, he was finally a multiple Olympic gold medalist.

Moses was a lot of other things, too, including being a leader in allow Olympic athletes to be paid. A few years earlier he played a big role in getting Olympic officials to change strict amateurism rules, and was making $400,000 a year - unheard of for a track athlete - as he went into the Games.

Moses was also a prominent athlete’s voice in favor of widespread testing for steroids after seeing in 1976 what the East Germans and others were doing.

“I’d never seen anything like that in my life,” he said. “I was shocked to see women have a build like that, with hairy legs and deep voices. I saw how they blew our women away, and the men too. It was very disturbing to me.”

With much of the Eastern Bloc boycotting, Americans dominated at the first Summer Olympics in the U.S. since Los Angeles hosted in 1932.

At a time the Olympics were on shaky financial ground and having trouble finding host cities, Peter Ueberroth stepped up and promised an Olympics that would cost Los Angeles taxpayers nothing. He delivered using mostly existing venues — including the Coliseum that hosted the 1932 Games.

The naysayers said it couldn’t be done, and that LA would sink financially while there would be horrendous traffic jams on the freeways. But the Games ended up to be both a financial and athletic success.

They were also a one-sided showcase of American superiority, with the host country winning 83 gold medals while no other country won more than 20. And they delivered what Ueberroth promised, a $223 million profit that is still being used today by the LA84 Foundation to fund youth sports in Southern California.

“It’s been a beautiful gift to the city of Los Angeles and the 3.5 million kids that have been impacted by what the foundation has been able to do," said Renata Simril, president and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. “And the Olympics themselves were a moment on which the spirit of LA and the Olympic movement are all about. I meet people all the time and the first thing they want to tell me is their LA84 stories."

Among the highlights of the American-dominated games -- fittingly with a mascot of Sam the Eagle — were:

Lewis made the Coliseum his own personal playground, winning four gold medals to match the record of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. Lewis did it in the same events as Owens, winning the 100 and 200-meter sprints and anchoring the 4-by-100 relay. He added a fourth in the long jump to cement his place in Olympic history. Lewis would go on to win nine gold medals over four Olympics.

Mary Lou Retton would get on a Wheaties box for becoming the first U.S. gymnast to win gold medal in women’s overall. The U.S. men also won a gold team medal, but it was Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo who landed the biggest haul with four golds and a silver.

With no Soviets and no Cubans, Americans dominated boxing, winning 9 of 12 golds plus a silver. Evander Holyfield won the other US medal, a bronze, after being disqualified in the semifinals for knocking out New Zealand’s Kevin Barry with a punch that officials said came after the referee called for a break.

The first women’s marathon was won by Joan Benoit of the U.S. Another American track favorite didn’t fare as well. Mary Decker was picked to win gold in the women’s 3,000-meter final but tripped over the bare feet of South Africa’s Zola Budd and fell to the track, writhing in pain. A tearful Decker claimed Budd had bumped into her, but officials ruled the results of the race would stand.

Participating in its first summer Olympics since 1952, China served notice it would become a sports power by winning 15 golds and 31 medals overall. Chinese athletes became favorites of the LA fans, who also supported the Romanians because they had defied the Soviet boycott to compete in LA.


A red, white and blue Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984

EDITORS - With the Tokyo Olympics postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press is looking back at the history of Summer Games. Here are some of the highlights of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

The streak kept growing, something Edwin Moses was reminded of every time he stepped on the track. By the time he got to Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympics it had been seven years and 104 races since someone had finished ahead of him in the 400-meter hurdles.

Nobody could beat Moses. That’s just the way it was, which made it foregone conclusion among most in track and field that the gold medal would be his.

That the Soviets wouldn’t be there because of a revenge boycott made it even more of a lock. Same with the East Germans, and their weirdly muscular bodies.

But Moses still had to deliver in the Olympic final on a beautiful Sunday evening at the LA Coliseum. And one of the greatest track athletes of all time did just that, grabbing such a big lead he was able to ease up at the finish line to collect his second Olympic gold medal.

“I took nothing for granted because there was no margin for errors,” Moses said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “You’re jumping over things at a high rate of speed, and anything could happen.”

Moses did stumble over some of the words to the athlete’s pledge he was picked to recite to open the games, so the Olympics weren’t perfect for him. But after winning gold in Montreal in 1976 and then losing a chance to compete when the U.S. boycotted the 1980 games in Moscow, he was finally a multiple Olympic gold medalist.

Moses was a lot of other things, too, including being a leader in allow Olympic athletes to be paid. A few years earlier he played a big role in getting Olympic officials to change strict amateurism rules, and was making $400,000 a year - unheard of for a track athlete - as he went into the Games.

Moses was also a prominent athlete’s voice in favor of widespread testing for steroids after seeing in 1976 what the East Germans and others were doing.

“I’d never seen anything like that in my life,” he said. “I was shocked to see women have a build like that, with hairy legs and deep voices. I saw how they blew our women away, and the men too. It was very disturbing to me.”

With much of the Eastern Bloc boycotting, Americans dominated at the first Summer Olympics in the U.S. since Los Angeles hosted in 1932.

At a time the Olympics were on shaky financial ground and having trouble finding host cities, Peter Ueberroth stepped up and promised an Olympics that would cost Los Angeles taxpayers nothing. He delivered using mostly existing venues - including the Coliseum that hosted the 1932 Games.

The naysayers said it couldn’t be done, and that LA would sink financially while there would be horrendous traffic jams on the freeways. But the Games ended up to be both a financial and athletic success.

They were also a one-sided showcase of American superiority, with the host country winning 83 gold medals while no other country won more than 20. And they delivered what Ueberroth promised, a $223 million profit that is still being used today by the LA84 Foundation to fund youth sports in Southern California.

“It’s been a beautiful gift to the city of Los Angeles and the 3.5 million kids that have been impacted by what the foundation has been able to do,” said Renata Simril, president and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. “And the Olympics themselves were a moment on which the spirit of LA and the Olympic movement are all about. I meet people all the time and the first thing they want to tell me is their LA84 stories.”

Among the highlights of the American-dominated games — fittingly with a mascot of Sam the Eagle - were:

Lewis made the Coliseum his own personal playground, winning four gold medals to match the record of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. Lewis did it in the same events as Owens, winning the 100 and 200-meter sprints and anchoring the 4-by-100 relay. He added a fourth in the long jump to cement his place in Olympic history. Lewis would go on to win nine gold medals over four Olympics.

Mary Lou Retton would get on a Wheaties box for becoming the first U.S. gymnast to win gold medal in women’s overall. The U.S. men also won a gold team medal, but it was Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo who landed the biggest haul with four golds and a silver.

With no Soviets and no Cubans, Americans dominated boxing, winning 9 of 12 golds plus a silver. Evander Holyfield won the other US medal, a bronze, after being disqualified in the semifinals for knocking out New Zealand’s Kevin Barry with a punch that officials said came after the referee called for a break.

The first women’s marathon was won by Joan Benoit of the U.S. Another American track favorite didn’t fare as well. Mary Decker was picked to win gold in the women’s 3,000-meter final but tripped over the bare feet of South Africa’s Zola Budd and fell to the track, writhing in pain. A tearful Decker claimed Budd had bumped into her, but officials ruled the results of the race would stand.

Participating in its first summer Olympics since 1952, China served notice it would become a sports power by winning 15 golds and 31 medals overall. Chinese athletes became favorites of the LA fans, who also supported the Romanians because they had defied the Soviet boycott to compete in LA.


Los Angeles1984

After the financial problems of 1976, only Los Angeles bid for the right to host the 1984 Olympic Games. The bid was criticised for depending heavily on existing facilities and corporate sponsors. However, the Games produced a healthy profit of $223 million (USD) and became the model for future Games.

No Boycott Blues

Although a revenge boycott led by the Soviet Union depleted the field in certain sports, 140 National Olympic Committees took part, which was a record at the time. Good feelings prevailed to such an extent that at the Opening Ceremony the athletes broke ranks to join in spontaneous dancing, something usually reserved for the Closing Ceremony.

Debuts and Firsts

Archer Neroli Fairhall of New Zealand was the first paraplegic athlete to take part in a medal event, competing in a wheelchair. The first Olympic women’s marathon was staged, and was won by Joan Benoit of the U.S. Rhythmic gymnastics, synchronised swimming and the women’s cycling road race also made their debuts.

Congratulations, Carl

Carl Lewis entered the history books by matching the Berlin 1936 achievement of fellow American Jesse Owens, winning gold medals in the same four events: 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump.

Athletes: 6,829 (1,566 women, 5,263 men)

Events: 221

Volunteers: 28,742

Media: 9,190 media (4,327 written press, 4,863 broadcasters)

The Soviet Boycott

With the Olympics being held in the United States only four years after the U.S.-led boycott of the Moscow Games, it was not surprising that the Soviet Union organised a revenge boycott in 1984. This time only 14 nations stayed away—but those nations accounted for 58 per cent of the gold medals at the 1976 Olympics.

Swimming

An oddity occurred in men’s 400m freestyle swimming. Beginning in 1984 and until 1996, the eight fastest qualifiers took part in the “A” final and the ninth to 16th fastest swam in a consolation “B” final. For the only time in Olympic history, the winner of the “B” final, Thomas Fahrner (FRG) recorded a faster time than the winner of the “A” final.

Marathon for Women

Fifty-six years after doctors declared that women who ran 800m would “become old too soon,” a women’s marathon was added to the Olympic programme.

Diplomas

Diplomas of Honour are awarded to the top eight finishers in each event.

Ceremonies

28 July 1984, Los Angeles: the spectacle. The brass band "All American Marching Band".


Stay in the know at a glance with the Top 10 daily stories

EDITORS - With the Tokyo Olympics postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press is looking back at the history of Summer Games. Here are some of the highlights of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

The streak kept growing, something Edwin Moses was reminded of every time he stepped on the track. By the time he got to Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympics it had been seven years and 104 races since someone had finished ahead of him in the 400-meter hurdles.

Nobody could beat Moses. That's just the way it was, which made it foregone conclusion among most in track and field that the gold medal would be his.

That the Soviets wouldn't be there because of a revenge boycott made it even more of a lock. Same with the East Germans, and their weirdly muscular bodies.

But Moses still had to deliver in the Olympic final on a beautiful Sunday evening at the LA Coliseum. And one of the greatest track athletes of all time did just that, grabbing such a big lead he was able to ease up at the finish line to collect his second Olympic gold medal.

''I took nothing for granted because there was no margin for errors,'' Moses said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. ''You're jumping over things at a high rate of speed, and anything could happen.''

Moses did stumble over some of the words to the athlete's pledge he was picked to recite to open the games, so the Olympics weren't perfect for him. But after winning gold in Montreal in 1976 and then losing a chance to compete when the U.S. boycotted the 1980 games in Moscow, he was finally a multiple Olympic gold medalist.

Moses was a lot of other things, too, including being a leader in allow Olympic athletes to be paid. A few years earlier he played a big role in getting Olympic officials to change strict amateurism rules, and was making $400,000 a year - unheard of for a track athlete - as he went into the Games.

Moses was also a prominent athlete's voice in favor of widespread testing for steroids after seeing in 1976 what the East Germans and others were doing.

''I'd never seen anything like that in my life,'' he said. ''I was shocked to see women have a build like that, with hairy legs and deep voices. I saw how they blew our women away, and the men too. It was very disturbing to me.''

With much of the Eastern Bloc boycotting, Americans dominated at the first Summer Olympics in the U.S. since Los Angeles hosted in 1932.

At a time the Olympics were on shaky financial ground and having trouble finding host cities, Peter Ueberroth stepped up and promised an Olympics that would cost Los Angeles taxpayers nothing. He delivered using mostly existing venues - including the Coliseum that hosted the 1932 Games.

The naysayers said it couldn't be done, and that LA would sink financially while there would be horrendous traffic jams on the freeways. But the Games ended up to be both a financial and athletic success.

They were also a one-sided showcase of American superiority, with the host country winning 83 gold medals while no other country won more than 20. And they delivered what Ueberroth promised, a $223 million profit that is still being used today by the LA84 Foundation to fund youth sports in Southern California.

''It's been a beautiful gift to the city of Los Angeles and the 3.5 million kids that have been impacted by what the foundation has been able to do,'' said Renata Simril, president and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. ''And the Olympics themselves were a moment on which the spirit of LA and the Olympic movement are all about. I meet people all the time and the first thing they want to tell me is their LA84 stories.''

Among the highlights of the American-dominated games -- fittingly with a mascot of Sam the Eagle - were:

Lewis made the Coliseum his own personal playground, winning four gold medals to match the record of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. Lewis did it in the same events as Owens, winning the 100 and 200-meter sprints and anchoring the 4-by-100 relay. He added a fourth in the long jump to cement his place in Olympic history. Lewis would go on to win nine gold medals over four Olympics.

Mary Lou Retton would get on a Wheaties box for becoming the first U.S. gymnast to win gold medal in women's overall. The U.S. men also won a gold team medal, but it was Romania's Ecaterina Szabo who landed the biggest haul with four golds and a silver.

With no Soviets and no Cubans, Americans dominated boxing, winning 9 of 12 golds plus a silver. Evander Holyfield won the other US medal, a bronze, after being disqualified in the semifinals for knocking out New Zealand's Kevin Barry with a punch that officials said came after the referee called for a break.

The first women's marathon was won by Joan Benoit of the U.S. Another American track favorite didn't fare as well. Mary Decker was picked to win gold in the women's 3,000-meter final but tripped over the bare feet of South Africa's Zola Budd and fell to the track, writhing in pain. A tearful Decker claimed Budd had bumped into her, but officials ruled the results of the race would stand.

Participating in its first summer Olympics since 1952, China served notice it would become a sports power by winning 15 golds and 31 medals overall. Chinese athletes became favorites of the LA fans, who also supported the Romanians because they had defied the Soviet boycott to compete in LA.


We've Been Saying the Olympic Games Are Dead for Decades. Here's Why They Keep Going

It’s a reasonable inquiry. The Tokyo Olympics, already postponed for a year because of COVID-19, are scheduled to commence on July 23, under fraught circumstances. With Japan in a state of emergency, and the Japanese healthcare system stressed to the breaking point, an overwhelming majority of its citizenry has voiced strenuous objection to the country continuing to host the Olympics.

And who can blame them? The Olympics present an almost singularly-awful set of circumstances for a global pandemic: hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe converge on a single site. They sit for hours in tight quarters—often indoors—yelling in open-mouthed excitement. Meanwhile, thousands of athletes not only compete , but live (and carouse) together in close quarters in a “village.” After 16 days, the guests board flights and return to their home countries.

The Olympic torch may be flickering this summer, but that dire inquiry—Are the Games Dead?— was splashed on the cover of Newsweek magazine in May of 1984, 37 years ago. It came amid a rough stretch for the Olympic movement. The Munich Games of 1972 were—and are—recalled foremost for the 11 Israeli athletes massacred by a group of terrorists. The legacy of the 1976 Games in Montreal was not one of heroic athletic achievement but heroic expense, as an event budgeted for $250 million carried a final price tag of $1.4 billion—a debt Canadians wouldn’t discharge until the fall of 2006. The United States was among the 65 countries boycotting the 1980 Moscow Games, an excursion, however justified, of geopolitics into sports.

So it was that for the 1984 Games, only two cities worldwide submitted bids to host: Los Angeles and Tehran. Then, the Shah was overthrown, civil unrest followed, Tehran withdrew its bid, and L.A. effectively became host-by-default.

Yet, like so much that summer, the 1984 Olympics would prove pivotal. Yes, they would mint a slate of stars, among them Michael Jordan, Mary Lou Retton and Carl Lewis. Yes, more female athletes than ever were permitted to compete—a still-embarrassing 23.1 percent. China sent multiple delegates, auguring a new sports power. Soccer opened the door to bending the amateur criteria, leaving the door ajar for the 1992 U.S. Dream Team in basketball.

But the ultimate success—and the ultimate legacy—of the 1984 Olympics was financial. The head of the Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee (LAOOC) was an underdog candidate, Peter Ueberroth. A college water polo player with Olympic ambitions, Ueberroth had his nose broken five times during his career, and only allowed the cameras to shoot him from one side. As a businessman, he was considerably more successful, a millionaire many times over before he turned 40. And he ran the Olympics as he would any other company.

In advance of the Games, Ueberroth foresaw two sources of revenue: sponsorship and television. At the previous Olympics held in the U.S., the Lake Placid Winter Games of 1980, more than 400 sponsors signed on, but they generated barely $10 million in revenue. If you were a toothpaste company, you would donate tubes for all the athletes… and, presto, you were an Olympic sponsor. Ueberroth’s model entailed far fewer sponsors for far more money.

Only 30 companies would have exclusive use of the Olympic logo for their product line, and the minimum price was $4 million. Coke and Pepsi submitted sealed bids to become the beverage sponsor. Coke “won” and paid $12.6 million, more than the entire combined sponsorship revenue of Lake Placid. Kodak balked at the price tag and offered only $2 million, effectively daring Ueberroth to make a deal with a company based outside of the U.S. He obliged. And so it was that Fuji of Japan agreed to pay $7 million to process all the film on site, becoming an Olympic sponsor.

Ueberroth also saw television as a major source of revenue. The Olympics provided weeks of prime-time live programming we would later call “appointment viewing.” That is, the nightly content was unscripted, unchoreographed, and audiences wanted to watch it in real time. ABC won this bidding war, committing roughly $300 million to rights and production. How substantial was this contract? On the day the Soviets announced an Olympics boycott that spring in retaliation for 1980, ABC’s stock plunged as concerned investors feared ratings would be a bust. (Ueberroth offered a comforting theory that the boycott would result in more American medals, goosing ratings.)

When the athletes arrived in Los Angeles, the earmarks of this commercialization were hard to miss. Though the term had yet to enter the vernacular, they were given “swag bags” from the sponsors, including Levi’s Jeans and cans of Coke. Through AT&T, another sponsor, they were also given access to an “Electronic Messaging system,” whereby they “could message each other without picking up a phone.” (The majority of athletes did not bother to set up a password for this EMS, which was, in retrospect, one of the world’s first email networks.)

As Ueberroth predicted, the Games were a ratings bonanza. More than 180 million Americans watched, making the 1984 Summer Olympics, at the time, the most viewed event in television history. Per Nielsen, ninety percent of all U.S. households tuned into the Games at some point. McDonald’s had staged a giveaway game, offering free burgers (gold), fries (silver), and sodas (bronze) when American athletes won medals. The U.S. medal count of 174 meant that many American non-athletes ate free food that summer but McDonald’s not only remained as an Olympic sponsor but reprised the promotion in 1988. And the other 1984 sponsors that had collectively committed more than $150 million were thrilled for the association.

In the end, the L.A. Games yielded a surplus of $250 million. Much of which was used to fund Los Angeles sports programs. The basketball facility where the current NBA star Russell Westbrook developed his game? It was funded by the proceeds from the 1984 Olympics. Same for a junior tennis league program that played a role in the development of Venus and Serena Williams.

Which brings us to Tokyo this summer. Japan might be reeling from COVID-19 and the Japanese public might be offended. But the Games will go on. There is simply too much money sloshing around for them not to. To borrow a phrase, they are too big to fail.

Tokyo had already committed an estimated $12.6 billion to infrastructure and facilities, a cost that has risen 22 percent to $15.4 billion due to the delay, more than double initial projections. Likewise, when the Olympics were postponed last year on account of COVID-19, NBC—a network that now brands itself as the home to the Olympics—suddenly had a $1 billion hole in its balance sheets. NBC had, perhaps self-aggrandizingly, referred to the 2016 Rio Olympics as “the most successful media event in history.” As traditional television transitions to streaming and mobile, NBC wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass. Neither were the sponsors, the multinational companies, counting on the Olympics not just for the affiliation, but for client hospitality events.

And you can draw a straight line connecting these commercial pressures and 1984.

Now, as then, the Games aren’t dead. Not by a longshot. But it’s worth noting that the reason they are alive has strikingly little to do with games, athletes or medals.


This Week in History May 6 - 10

This week: Victory Day, Olympic boycotts, Mother's Day and a side of protests.

May 6, 2013 -- intro: This week in history includes monumental events such as World War II Victory Day, boycotted Olympics and violent student protests. Additionally, this week had its share of firsts, such as the first national celebration of Mother's Day and the first White House telephone line. For more events, keep reading what happened this week in history.

quicklist: 1title: May 6Text: 1970: Students Launch Nationwide Protest Against Vietnam WarCollege students across the country joined forces in protest of the Vietnam War on May 6, 1970. The protests were organized as a reaction to the shooting of four students at Kent State University earlier that year in a demonstration to protest President Nixon's decision to send U.S. troops to Cambodia. In some cases, faculty members joined students in the protest. Overall, 536 campuses were shut down completely and 51 of them closed for the remainder of the academic year.

A few days later on May 9, 1970, nearly 100,000 collegiates demonstrated peacefully in Washington near the White House, demanding that U.S. military forces withdraw from Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The peaceful protest later turned into a fiasco when more militant protests spread throughout the city, resulting in police attacking the crowds with tear gas.

quicklist: 2title: May 7text: 1915: Lusitania Torpedoed, 128 Americans KilledPresident Woodrow Wilson originally pledged neutrality at the start of World War I, but tensions heightened when German forces torpedoed the British vessel Lusitania, killing 128 Americans in the process. The ocean liner was torpedoed by a German submarine near the coast of Ireland and sank within 20 minutes. In total, nearly 2,000 people drowned. The attack caused outrage in the U.S., but Germany defended its actions, noting that it had issued warnings of attacking all ships that entered the war zone with Britain.

quicklist: 3title: May 8text: 1945: Victory Day for U.S. and EuropeCities across Europe celebrated Victory Day and the end of World War II on this day in 1945. On May 8, 1945, German troops formally laid down their arms and surrendered to allied forces. Official surrender documents were signed in Berlin and East Germany. While Americans and Europeans celebrated their historic victory, German soldiers attempted a mass exodus to the West in hopes of escaping Soviet capture. The Germans encountered conflicts with Soviets as they made their exit from the Eastern European front, so Victory Day is currently celebrated on May 9 in former Soviet countries.

1984: Soviets Announce Boycott of OlympicsThe Soviet Union announced that it would not compete in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, on the grounds that Soviet athletes would not be safe from protests and attacks at the event, especially since the Olympics was being held in the United States. This statement came four years after the U.S. decided to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow to protest Russian involvement in Afghanistan. President Ronald Reagan responded to the Soviets' stance by describing it as a "blatant political decision for which there was no real justification."

Following the Soviet boycott, 13 other communist nations, including East Germany, also withdrew from the Olympics. Overall, the boycott had more of an impact on sports than on diplomacy. Without competition from the Soviet Union and East Germany, the U.S. walked away from the 1984 Olympics with 83 gold medals.

quicklist: 4title: May 9text: 1914: Woodrow Wilson Proclaims First Mother's DayPresident Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing the first national Mother's Day holiday on this day in 1914. Previously, individual states celebrated Mother's Day, but it wasn't until this day that Mother's Day was officially set on the second Sunday of every May. Wilson named this holiday as a way for citizens to "publicly express our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

Over the years, various presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush, have echoed Wilson's sentiments about honoring mothers. Lincoln has been quoted as saying, "All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother" and in 2002, George W. Bush honored his "fabulous mother" and all American mothers for their "love and sacrifice."

quicklist: 5title: May 10text: 1877: First Phone Installed in White HouseOn this day in 1877, the first phone was installed in the telegraph room of White House under the administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes.Hayes rarely received phone calls, since the only other organization with a direct line to the White House was the Treasury Department. The phone number to reach the White House was simply, "1," and it wasn't until the Hoover administration that the first telephone line was installed on the president's desk in the Oval Office.

1924: J. Edgar Hoover Begins Legacy at FBI The now infamous J. Edgar Hoover was named the acting director of the Bureau of Investigation, now called the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, beginning his 48 year tenure as the leader of the organization. After being named to this position, Hoover began monitoring suspicious activities that eventually led to Red Scare-fueled roundups and deportations. Adding to Hoover's legacy was his approval of FBI spying on the American Civil Liberties Union and civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr. The extent of Hoover's surveillance remained largely unknown until after his death in 1972.


OLYMPICS 1984: COUNTER-INSURGENCY GOES FOR THE GOLD

Los Angeles is gearing up to host the 1984 Summer Olympics. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by the L.A. Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC), multi-national corporations, and all levels of government, to finance this colossal spectacle. With the Presidential race moving into high gear this summer, the Olympics will surely be played as a celebration of “America Resurgent: standing tall and on the move!” More than a boost to sagging national spirit, the Olympics will be used to build support for the U.S. march down the road to war.

Even with its image tarnished by the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and its allies, the Games will be of international importance. Faced with an erosion of popular support for intervention in Central America, it is a major opportunity to get Americans rooting for the “home team, the greatest country on earth.” Behind the patriotic hoopla, the official Olympic logo of Sam the Eagle designed by Disney, the candy bars and Olympic banks, another more ominous development is taking shape. Under the guise of providing “security against a possible terrorist threat,” the government is developing a police state apparatus in the sun and smog of Southern California.

George Orwell, whose book �” has entered popular consciousness to become synonymous with the police state, once wrote that “international sport is like war without the guns.” This August in Los Angeles, the guns will not be absent. As 10,000 Olympians take the field, they will be outnumbered two-to- one by law enforcement and counter-insurgency personnel from the LAOOC, five dozen jurisdictions in California, the Army, Coast Guard, National Guard, CIA, FBI, Secret Service, and secret police from countless foreign countries. The estimated security budget for all of this is between $100 and $200 million.

Enjoying tremendous prestige and respectability, with hundreds of millions watching on T.V. worldwide, the Olympics provide the perfect rationale for this mobilization of repressive power. The security preparations for the Olympics do not arise out of a momentary crisis, only to fall away when the danger has passed. They fit into the long term trend in this country and in Europe towards more repressive mechanisms of state control. The development of domestic repression is a growing preoccupation for all the imperialist countries and their client states.

Despite the talk of economic recovery in the West, the global economy upon which the empire depends is in perpetual and growing crisis. Colonies and neo-colonies are fighting for liberation, and cracks and strains are appearing within and between the advanced industrial countries. Across Europe, popular movements are arising, and revolutionary armed actions are occurring with greater frequency. In the U.S. there is a generalized increase in progressive activity arising in response to U.S. militarism and intervention, and to the depression-level conditions faced by colonized people. The state has been unable to destroy armed clandestine movements like the Puerto Rican FALN, the Black Liberation Army, the Red Guerrilla Resistance, the Armed Resistance Unit, and the United Freedom Front.

In the face of these challenges, all the western “democracies” are becoming subtly militarized, adopting new laws to suppress dissent and prevent the growth of anti-imperialist struggle among their populations.

Up the coast to the north of Los Angeles, hundreds of Federal and military agents have been sent to San Francisco, where the Democratic Party Convention is to be held in July. As tens of millions of dollars are spent on security to protect the Convention, the San Francisco police have begun practicing large scale riot control and containment operations against demonstrations opposing U. S. aggression in Central America. When one thousand people took to the streets to demonstrate against Kissinger in April, the SFPD’s mounted police and tactical squads beat demonstrators and engineered a mass arrest of nearly 200 people.

Over the past few months military and FBI agents have stepped up their spying and harassment of individuals and organizations in the area. The Livermore Action Group (LAG), a mass organization which has mobilized thousands to carry out civil disobedience against the nuclear war machine, has had its meetings infiltrated by government spies. The FBI has launched a wave of visits to the homes and workplaces of Black activists on the west coast. It is apparent that the police machinery being set up for the Olympics and the Conventions will remain with us long after the last athlete and delegate have departed from the spotlight.

FROM THE BATTLEFIELD TO THE PLAYING FIELD: A LITTLE HISTORY

The Olympics, financed by monopoly corporations, will raise patriotic fervor and militarism to a fever pitch. If the U.S. can sell Twinkies, McDonalds, and Buicks to the huge audience watching the Games, why can’t they sell the FBI SWAT team or the new Los Angeles police anti-terrorist unit?

The Olympic aura as a supposedly apolitical celebration of human sports endeavor is belied by its revival, at the turn of the century, to inculcate European and U.S. youth with a more martial spirit. The modern Games were begun by a Frenchman, Baron de Coubertin, who was concerned that French youth were neither sufficiently trained physically nor motivated politically to fight for their empire. Since then, virtually every Olympiad has been either the scene of sharp conflict, or suspended because of World War. The Soviet Union was excluded from the time of the Russian Revolution until 1952 and the Peoples Republic of China was similarly banned for decades. In 1936, Hitler used the Munich Olympics as a stage to promote Nazi racialism throughout Europe.

In the Americas, the history of the Olympics is no less political. South of Los Angeles, the Mexico City Olympics of 1968 was the scene of a bloody massacre and mass repression. The revolutionary upheaval which swept through Latin America in the 1960s emerged in Mexico, causing great concern not only to the Mexican bourgeoisie but to the U.S. as well. More than five hundred Mexican students and members of the independent left — possibly as many as 2000 — were machine-gunned to death in the Tlaltelolco Plaza while demonstrating prior to the start of the Games.

That same year, Black athletes in the U. S. threatened to boycott the competition in protest against the brutal repression of the Black liberation struggle going on in this country. Black Olympic medalists Tommie Lee Smith and John Carlos expressed the outrage of many when they raised their fists in the Black power salute during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. For this they were immediately ejected from Mexico.

In 1972, the Palestinian revolution came into the international arena by taking hostage a number of Israeli athletes who were also members of the Zionist armed forces. Israeli, German and U.S. counter-insurgency squads attacked them, precipitating a massacre. African nations boycotted the 1976 Olympics as part of the worldwide effort to isolate racist South Africa and those nations which support it. Jimmy Carter fired the opening salvo of a new cold war in 1980 by refusing to send the U.S. team to the Moscow Games.

In spite of all this, the Olympics continue to enjoy a reservoir of respectability that provides the U.S. government an unequalled opportunity to get people to swallow increased repression in the name of protecting the “integrity” of the Games.

LOS ANGELES NEVER WAS – THE CITY OF THE ANGELS

What is the U. S. so concerned about protecting in Los Angeles? In addition to being the entertainment capital of the world, L.A. is a strategic center of the military industrial complex. The Olympic venues, which extend from Santa Barbara to San Diego, are lined with Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine bases, defense contractors and weapons research facilities. Los Angeles is a mega-city which sprawls for miles and miles. It is the southern capital of the Pacific Rim the place from which strategic commercial and military activity is launched south to Mexico and Central America, and westward to the Philippines and Asia.

At the same time, L.A. is home for millions of Black and Mexican people. The Mexican population there is second only to Mexico City and is growing. While the region’s economy is greatly dependent on colonized Black and Mexican labor, these people are at the bottom of the pyramid and face genocidal conditions of existence. During the last six months, Los Angeles has been the target of a Klan organizing drive [culminating in the burning of three crosses by the Klan, the Nazis, the Aryan Nations and White Aryan Resistance] and since December three other crosses have been burned in Black communities. As the Games draw near, the state is haunted by the fear that unemployment or police killings may provoke another “Watts riot” a long, hot summer of Black resistance like the one in 1965 when the inner city burned as Black people rose up in the first intense rebellion of the 1960s.

In L.A., the police have killed or shot an average of one Black or Latino person every week for the past 15 years. The relative economic situation of Black people today is worse than it was at the height of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Unemployment among Black people is rising as it falls among whites. Joblessness for Black youth is well over 50 percent. And Black tenth graders in L.A. have lower reading levels and are less likely to complete high school today than they were ten years ago. PCP and other destructive drugs are pumped like a deadly plague into Black neighborhoods.

The disregard for the human rights of colonized people which prevails in L.A. is illustrated by the recent spraying of toxic malathion in several Mexicano and Black neighborhoods to kill fruit flies. This chemical is so corrosive that cars have to be shielded so the spray won’t destroy the finish. It has been used as a crowd control weapon by the Junta in El Salvador, which has sprayed it on demonstrators. One child has died after exposure in L.A., and many other school children have reported nausea and discomfort. Yet, despite strong community protests the spraying has continued.

Using the Olympics as a pretext, the state is moving to prevent the Black and Mexican communities from rising up during the Games or any time after. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (“la migra”), citing the threat of Olympic terrorism, has increased its activity against Central American refugees and has raided undocumented Iranian “gypsy” cab drivers in the city. Over one million Mexicanos have been arrested at the border in the last year, while Reagan and the right wing are promoting an hysterical fear of so-called “feet people” (undocumented Mexicanos and Central Americans) crossing the border en masse.

The sheriff has announced that street gangs are plotting a “reign of terror” during the Olympics, and is calling for increased police presence in the community. He is planning to build 2000 “temporary” jail cells to house the anticipated mass arrests which will be made during the Games. The State Legislature plans to authorize Governor Deukmejian to call up the National Guard during, and at least six months after, the Olympics, without even having to declare a state of emergency. At the first signs of unrest, troops could be patrolling every street corner in south-central L.A.

Last year, when a tornado hit mostly Black south-central Los Angeles near the Convention Center, police cordoned off the entire neighborhood. They required I.D. from everyone entering or leaving a many-square-block area. Similar plans are in the works to require passes for movement in and out of the Black community surrounding the Olympic Village at the University of Southern California (USC).

According to a leader of the Center for Black Survival, a New Afrikan community organization in L.A., “Police will be sealing off major streets supposedly to deter terrorism, controlling all food and other deliveries into the area.” A Black woman told the newspapers, “I know the concern is terrorism, but if there are no jobs this summer, the little people are going to be doing some mini-terror of their own.”

OLYMPICS LINEUP: A ROGUES GALLERY OF RIGHT-WINGERS AND WAR-MONGERS

Who are the real terrorists in charge of the Olympics and what are they planning? Olympics security planning is coordinated at the highest levels of government. The Pentagon has budgeted $60 million for security at the Games. Reagan has appointed Michael Deaver, who runs the White House, as his personal liaison to the L.A. Olympic Organizing Committee. Below him are 600 Secret Service agents, international, federal and local experts armed to take full advantage of the anti-terrorist mobilization the Olympics provide.

CHARLIE BECKWITH:

Ex-Green Beret Commander Beckwith

Retired U.S. Army Colonel who is the leading operational expert on counter-insurgency in the military, was retained by Washington to conduct a study of the Olympic anti-terrorist efforts. Beckwith, a former Green Beret commander, founded the Army’s Delta Blue Light commando team one of the forces being sent to the Olympics and led it into Iran during the hostage crisis.

WILLIAM WEBSTER:

Webster assigned 700 FBI agents to LA for Olympics

Head of the FBI, which has principal operating responsibility for security, has announced that 700 agents are on assignment to the Olympics to supplement the hundreds already on permanent duty in L.A. Under Webster, imperialism has found the ideal successor to J. Edgar Hoover. Webster has given the agency a face-lift, reorganized it and presided over the new guidelines which give it freedom to carry out break-ins and other illegal activities against progressive groups.

DARYL GATES:

Gates’ s role in 1984 led to 1992 rebellion.

Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, has been somewhat resistant to FBI domination of security, insisting on greater independence for his forces. Gates became infamous for his defense of the lethal police chokehold when he said, “Black people die disproportionately under the chokehold because their arteries are not normal.” Under Gates, it was revealed that the Public Disorders Intelligence Division (Red Squad) funnelled files on individuals and left organizations to the John Birch Society’s Western Goals Foundation computer network.

Gates has travelled to Germany and Israel to consult with their security experts. He has stated in T.V. interviews that Americans must be prepared to give up some rights to gain greater security. After a briefing in Quantico, Virginia with FBI, CIA and NSA agents, he signed a protocol with the FBI establishing a joint police-FBI Terrorist Task Force on the West Coast.

JEREMIAH DENTON:

Denton was the first ex-POW Senator, before McCain.

Head of the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, has begun holding closed hearings on security planning for the Olympics. Denton’s committee is being groomed as the HUAC of today. (HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Committee, led the anti-communist witchhunts of the 1950s.) Denton claims that L. A. police and federal agents have told his panel that people travelling to Lebanon for terrorist training are returning to the U.S. to pose a threat to the Games. FBI Director Webster testified to Denton’s committee that he has raised counter-terrorist activities to one of the Bureau’s top four priorities.

OFF THE STARTING BLOCKS: READY FOR REPRESSION

As the repressive apparatus is put into place, the government is being unusually open about it:

* Recently the FBI brought network T.V. onto its high security base in Quantico, Virginia, so it could broadcast training exercises of its hostage rescue team. Shown on the six o’clock news, this report featured agents rescuing a young woman “held hostage by terrorists.”

* The L.A. police have established close working relations with the Israeli Mossad (espionage agency), according to Commander William Rathburn. Shaul Rosolio, a “civilian” Israeli counter- intelligence expert, met with the law enforcement leaders of six Olympic countries. His company, the Jerusalem Research Group, has helped reorganize the police forces of Costa Rica and Colombia to carry out para-military operations. Rosolio met with Olympic Committee security chief Edgar Best and gave a seminar to the L.A. police academy. In his wake, the new Israeli consul to L.A., a former tank commander in the Sinai invasion, held a press conference to announce an active Israeli role in protecting the Olympics.

* Surveillance and dirty tricks against the left have increased in the L.A. area. An agent of the California Department of Justice, June Johnson, spied on the Palestinian resistance, the Puerto Rico solidarity movement, and Prairie Fire Organizing Committee. She infiltrated the anti-nuclear Alliance for Survival and entrapped an activist into participation in a government- sponsored “bomb plot” against the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Her role was exposed at the trial of the man, who was acquitted. Johnson has disclosed that as many as twenty other agents have infiltrated the anti-militarism movement in L.A. alone.

* Other security forces are being coordinated for the Olympics. The INS has announced new restrictions on immigration to deter “terrorists and criminals” from entering L.A. Reagan’s budget provides a multi-million dollar increase in funding for the Border Patrol, most of it concentrated on a fifty mile zone of California.

* Special police sharpshooters have been outfitted with silencer equipped machine guns, and Hughes Aircraft is providing helicopters to the Olympics Committee for surveillance and other security purposes.

* The security hysteria being created around the Olympics preparations has its national counterpart in the construction of concrete barriers and bunkers around government buildings in Washington D.C. These were put up to counter alleged Iranian “suicide bombers,” and in response to the bombing of the Capitol by the Armed Resistance Unit in solidarity with national liberation struggles in Grenada, Central America and Puerto Rico. Unnamed federal sources have leaked to the press the existence of one-hundred “terrorist groups” posing a threat to the Olympics: fifty of them operating in the U.S. and fifty internationally. Reminiscent of Joe McCarthy’s list of communists in the State Department, the groups on this list were not identified.

BEYOND THE OLYMPICS: A DIRTY WAR BEGINS

The anti-terrorist campaign being built up through the Olympics is a microcosm of U.S. strategy. On April 15, 1984, word of Reagan’s secret National Security Decision Directive 138 was leaked to the press. Called a “quantum leap” by the head Pentagon policy maker on “terrorism,” Noel Koch, this directive authorizes the FBI, CIA and other agencies to carry out pre-emptive attacks on “terrorists.” The directive orders twenty-six separate agencies and offices of the U.S. government to create plans to implement the new policy.

Several weeks after this was made public, the chief of the FBI’s “anti-terrorist operations” held a news conference in which he announced that nineteen organizations inside the U.S. are being targeted as “terrorist groups.”

As the economic and social crisis escalates, the State is moving to stop revolutionary leadership from developing. The central focus of the repressive forces and new laws are the liberation struggles of Puerto Rican, New Afrikan (Black), Mexican, and Native nations colonized inside this country. These movements represent the aspirations of tens of millions of people who are oppressed by the empire, not somewhere far away, but at the very center of America.

In 1978 in Puerto Rico, the U.S. convened a major international conference to plan repression against the Puerto Rican independence movement and other revolutionary forces inside this country. The working meeting was attended by top counter- insurgency planners from the dictatorships of Argentina and Uruguay, as well as by officials from Germany, Britain, Canada, Israel, and by an editor of the mercenary journal “Soldier of Fortune.” The major project of the conference was to figure out how to apply the fascistic counter-insurgency methods used in other countries dictatorships and democracies alike to the problems of the U.S. empire.

Under the cover of training the police to guard the Pan American Games from the “terrorist threat of the Puerto Rican independence movement,” many long-range goals were set. Chief among these were the revision of laws to enable the government to deny legal and human rights to “suspected and captured terrorists.” This meeting set a priority on building a consensus of popular support for repression. To accomplish this, the media was urged to depict revolutionaries as heartless killers and never as sympathetic human beings.

Faced with the prospects of growing mass struggles in this country, and with the existence of an armed movement in the early stages of development, the U.S. government is implementing this counter-insurgency strategy. Some of its most striking features are:

* The creation of the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force, which works with local police “red squads” to coordinate political repression nationally. This unit is now carrying out a campaign of low intensity warfare against the clandestine movements and public supporters of the Puerto Rican FALN and the Black Liberation Army.

* Violations of bourgeois legality in the trials of Puerto Rican, New Afrikan and white anti-imperialist freedom fighters. Secret juries, where the identities of jurors are never known, have become standard practice.

* Political internment of activists through the Federal Grand Jury witchhunts.

* The violation of the most basic human rights of captured Prisoners of War, freedom fighters and political prisoners. The attempted destruction of these revolutionaries through psychological torture, denial of medical care, and isolation.


Contents

Partnership and the Olympics Edit

Around 1975, Jayne Torvill was a British Junior Pairs champion, and Christopher Dean and his partner had won a British Junior Ice Dance competition. Nottingham coach Janet Sawbridge put them together, and shortly afterwards, they started their ice dancing history. They took their first trophy in 1976. They changed coaches to Betty Callaway in 1979. After a 5th-place finish at their first Olympic Games, in Lake Placid in the 1980 Winter Olympics, and 4th place in the Worlds that year, they never took lower than first place in any competition they entered except the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Singer-actor Michael Crawford was the fourth member of the team, along with their trainer. He became a mentor to them around 1981, and went on to help them create their 1983 and 1984 Olympic routines, and "taught them how to act". Crawford said of them, "I found them to be delightful young people, the kind you want to help if you can." (The Times November 1982). He was present with their trainer at the ringside, when the team won their perfect Olympics score with their Boléro routine. [4]

Going professional Edit

Although Torvill and Dean had been able to leave their jobs as an insurance book clerk and policeman, respectively—thanks to grants from the City of Nottingham—they were not allowed to earn any money from skating as long as they wished to remain eligible for the Olympics. Turning professional in 1984, they took advantage not only of the financial but of the artistic possibilities of their new status. They worked with Australian dance choreographer Graeme Murphy at first, and they were able to create not only routines for themselves but entire ice shows with a thematic coherence, which toured Australia, the U.S., and Europe. Their projects included a filmed fairy tale "Fire and Ice." In general, Dean would imagine the sequence he wanted to perform, and Torvill would work with him to refine it technically. They choreographed, as a team, for other ice dancers and skaters, particularly the Canadian brother–sister team Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay, who skated for France at the Albertville 1992 Winter Olympics, taking the silver medal with their West Side Story routine.

Return to the Olympics Edit

After ten years as professionals, Torvill and Dean decided to return to the amateur arena for the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway (along with other great skaters of the 1980s, such as Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt, following a change in eligibility rules). The couple moved to Hamar, Norway, in 1993 in order to practise at the Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre which hosted the figure skating events. Their free dance was designed to re-establish some of the ideas about ice dance which they themselves had been instrumental in dismantling "Let's Face The Music and Dance" had no swooning lovers, theatrical accessories, or strong ideological message instead, the emphasis was upon pure, light-hearted dance in the Astaire and Rogers tradition. The routine did have one move, an assisted lift, which pushed the envelope of the rules, though they had danced the routine at the European Championships with no indication from the judges of any problems. According to their joint autobiography, Facing the Music, the lift was technically legal because the rule prohibited lifts "above the shoulders," and the lift they used was not above the shoulders. The judges placed Torvill and Dean third, giving the second to perennial silver medalists Usova and Zhulin, and the gold medal to Grishuk and Platov, who continued to win gold through the next four years.

Life after the Olympics Edit

After the disappointing finish at Lillehammer, Torvill and Dean "retired from competitive skating" on 2 March 1994. [5] Instead, they continued with their planned and very successful "Face the Music" tour, to be followed by numerous other projects: Dean choreographed a suite of dances to the songs of Paul Simon for the English National Ballet, professional competitions, touring with Stars on Ice, and collaborating with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and director Patricia Rozema on the video Inspired by Bach: Six Gestures. In late 1998, they produced an ice show at Wembley Stadium in London, "Ice Adventures," which included a "flying" ice ballet and other wonders. In the meantime, they were still choreographing, notably for the dynamic French Ice Dance team, Anissina and Peizerat, who won first place in the World Championships in 2000.

In 1998, the pair officially retired, each continuing to coach and choreograph separately. Since 2006, they have acted as coaches, choreographers and performers in ITV's Dancing on Ice and its Australian version Torvill and Dean's Dancing on Ice. The ITV show returned for a fifth series in January 2010. After the 2007 and 2008 UK series of Dancing on Ice, Torvill and Dean took the show on the road for a British tour a similar tour, the "25th Anniversary" (of their Sarajevo Olympic success) took place in 2009.

In 2014, Torvill and Dean returned to Sarajevo to dance the Bolero one more time, celebrating the 30 year anniversary of their Olympics performance. [6] Invited by the mayor of Sarajevo ahead of the Youth Olympic Games in 2017, the event helped raise funds for a permanent ice rink and reminded the world of their efforts to bring back the Olympics to Sarajevo. [7] 2015 saw Torvill and Dean make their pantomime début at the Manchester Opera House, performing in "Cinderella". [8]

Use of narrative and thematic music Edit

After winning the 1981 World Figure Skating Championships (which brought the distinction of MBEs), and with three more years before the Olympics, they began to plan routines which used a single piece of music and had some narrative or thematic element. At that time, Ice Dance "long" routines typically used several pieces of music, often with different rhythms to show off the command of different steps (thus their Free Dance in 1981 used "Fame", "Caravan", "Red Sails in the Sunset", and "Sing, Sing, Sing") the Original Set Pattern dance used only one piece of music, but the entire routine had to be performed three times in sequence, exactly the same way. In 1982, they presented a long programme to the overture from the musical Mack and Mabel, which evoked the emotions of a sweet but stormy romance at the World Championships in 1983, they enacted a visit to the circus with music from Barnum, a performance which brought them the honour of receiving the world's first perfect score, [9] with help from the stage show's star, Michael Crawford in 1984, at the Olympics, they stunned the world with Boléro, and also with their dramatic Paso Doble (Capriccio Espagnol) short routine, in which Torvill was the bullfighter's cape. They had learned to choose and edit music carefully and design routines that were appealing both technically and imaginatively, and their completeness of presentation included thematically appropriate costumes.

In 1989, during the duo's visit to Australia, they recorded an album Here We Stand, [10] produced by Kevin Stanton with arrangements by Warwick Bone [11] [12] and Derek Williams, [13] [14] and recorded while Christopher Dean was laid up in Sydney, recuperating from a torn ligament. [15] Sales of the album were poor, and this may have been due to the fact that the album featured the dancers singing the material ghosted by backing vocalists, instead of the music they danced to, however it survives on iTunes. [16]

Complying with Olympic rules Edit

Torvill and Dean's 1984 Olympic free dance was skated to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. Ravel's original Boléro composition is over 17 minutes long. Olympics rules state that the free dance must be four minutes long (plus or minus ten seconds). Torvill and Dean went to a music arranger to condense Boléro down to a "skateable" version. However, they were told that the minimum time that Boléro could be condensed down to was 4 minutes 28 seconds, 18 seconds in excess of the Olympics rules. Torvill and Dean reviewed the Olympic rule book and found that it stated that actual timing of a skating routine began when the skaters started skating. Therefore, they could use Boléro if they did not place their skates' blades to ice for the first 18 seconds. They timed the performance so that when Torvill first placed a blade on the ice, they would have the maximum skating time remaining. [17]

Amateur Edit

Event 75–76 76–77 77–78 78–79 79–80 80–81 81–82 82–83 83–84 93–94
Olympics 5th 1st 3rd
Worlds 11th 8th 4th 1st 1st 1st 1st
Europeans 9th 6th 4th 1st 1st WD 1st 1st
British Championships 4th 3rd 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
NHK Trophy 2nd
St Ivel International 1st 1st
Oberstdorf 2nd 1st
St Gervais 1st
Morzine Trophy 2nd
John Davis Trophy 1st
Sheffield Trophy 1st
Rotary Watches Competition 2nd
Northern Championships 1st
WD: Withdrew

Amateur dance routines Edit

OSP/ORD Free Dance Exhibitions
1978 The Great Waldo Pepper
1979 Masquerade Slaughter on Tenth Avenue [18] Evergreen [19]
1980 A Little Street in Singapore Sing Sing Sing etc. [20] Puttin' On the Ritz
1981 Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White) Fame etc. [21] History of Love (version 1) [22]
1982 Summertime [23] Mack and Mabel [24] The Hop, Kiss Me Kate, Fast Tap
1983 Rock n Roll Barnum [25] Putting on the Ritz
1984 Paso Doble Boléro [26] I Won't Send Roses [27]
1994 History of Love (version 2) [28] Let's Face the Music [29] Boléro [26]

Professional Edit

Event 1984 1985 1990 1994 1995 1996
World Professional Championships 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Challenge of Champions 1st 1st 1st
World Team Championship 3rd 1st 1st

Professional dance routines Edit

1984 1985 1990 1994 [30] 1995 1996
World Professional Championships Song of India, [31] Encounter Diablo Tango, [32] Venus [33] Oscar Tango, [34] Revolution / Imagine [35] Encounter Still Crazy After All These Years, [36] Cecilia Take Five, [37] Hat Trick [38]
Challenge of Champions Echoes of Ireland [39] Still Crazy After All These Years, Cecilia Take Five, Hat Trick
World Team Championships Let's Face the Music, Encounter [40] Bridge Over Troubled Water, [41] Cecilia [42] Sarabande, Hat Trick

Song of India 1984 Edit

  • Music: Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Known performance period 1984–1987
  • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes
  • Competition: World Professional Championships Washington 1984
    • Result: 1st (10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10.) Technical piece

    Designed in Autumn 1984 for the World Professional Championships held in December 1984 (source Facing the Music: 1995:148).

    The piece was choreographed jointly between Jayne and Chris together with Graeme Murphy, Artistic Director with the Sydney Dance Company at the time. [44] The costumes consisted of both Jayne and Chris wearing billowing orange/red trousers with brief top pieces adorned with India jewels. The piece consists of a tremendous amount of drawn-out lifts, twisting, intertwining, and even sitting and rolling on the ice to create a balletic piece which they describe at evoking Indian sculptures. [45]

    The piece was first performed at the 1984 Royal Variety Show in London, before going on to win with straight 10s at the 1984 World Professional Championships. An extended Company version of the dance was devised for the 1985/1986 World Tour. [46] It is also known to have been performed again for the one-off televised production with the Russian All Stars at the Luzhniki rink in Moscow in 1987. [45]

    The piece contains a unique move of immense technical balance, design, and strength, whereby Dean lifts Torvill feet-first, allowing her to take hold of his lower calf. He then lifts his one leg back with Torvill held horizontal across his body as he completes the lift gliding forward on one leg. The obvious difficulty and stunning symmetry of the lift made it quite a show stopper, and they can be seen to repeat the lift during the 1993 Skates of Gold Exhibition in Boston USA when they take to the ice with their peers from their amateur period: Marina Klimova & Sergei Ponomarenko, and Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin. Dean and Torvill showed that the years have done nothing to detract from their skill, strength and balance when they incorporated the same lift into a re-worked version of Bolero for the 2007 series of Dancing on Ice. [ citation needed ]

    Encounter 1984 Edit

    • Music: “January Stars” written and performed by George Otis Winston
    • Known performance period 1984–1995
    • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes
    • Competition: World Professional Championships Washington 1984
      • Result: 1st (10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10.) Artistic piece
      • Result: 1st

      Encounter runs at over six minutes and was for Torvill and Dean their most enduring professional performance, winning them the World Professional Championships in 1984 and known to be used as performance piece until 1987. They resurrected the piece in 1994 to win at the World Team Championships. It is last known to have been performed at Wembley for the Face the Music World Tour filmed in June 1995.

      The theme of the piece involves two people who walk past each other in the street, notice each other, do a double take, and instantly fall in love. What follows is a brief encounter of two people very much in love but destined to be apart. The costumes were minimalist and unobtrusive, in keeping with the understatedness of the piece, consisting in the 1980s of a small sleek light grey-blue dress for Torvill cut like a mini-skirt and a silver-grey outfit for Dean. When Encounter was performed in the 1990s, Torvill wore a dress designed to look identical to the original, while Dean now wore shirt and trousers to match the colour of Torvill's outfit exactly.

      Heaven and Hell 1985 (Group Number) Edit

      • Music: derived from the Seven Deadly Sins Ballet
      • Known performance period: 1985–1986
      • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: none known

      A ten-minute group number, with Torvill and Dean taking part in the Heaven section, dressing in cream-white outfits.

      Venus 1985 Edit

      • Music: Gustav Holst (The Planet Suite)
      • Known performance period 1985–1986
      • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes
      • Competition: World Professional Championships Washington 1985
        • Result: 1st (10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10.)

        This dance was devised as part of their first World Tour, and performed in the Planet Suite, with various members of the Company performing the other planet pieces and the whole company performing Jupiter.

        The premise of Venus is that Jayne is the Goddess of Love looking after the world (source Facing the Music: 1995:167). The world is actually physically represented in the piece by large globe lit up inside and suspended by a wire (controlled by a boom operator) orbiting Torvill and Dean throughout the dance. The opening of the number was most unusual, consisting of an immensely tall Jayne skating on in a large voluminous cloak and sending the globe/sphere into orbit. Chris was in fact concealed within the cloak, lifting Jayne throughout the opening sequence, to then be revealed as the dance begins. The dance is extremely graceful, with many unusual lifts and intricate moves. The costumes were white, with Jayne wearing a white headscarf adorned with a gold coronet.

        The dance was used as the artistic piece for the 1985 World Championships which they won for the second year in a row.

        Jupiter 1985 (Group Number) Edit

        • Music: Holst (The Planet Suite)
        • Known performance period: 1985–1986
        • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: none known

        The spectacular finale piece for Torvill and Dean's first World Tour involving Torvill and Dean spinning like heavenly bodies with half a dozen fliers around them in orbit on wires. At the end, all the lights would go off except for ultraviolet, leaving them apparently spinning in space (source Facing the Music: 1995:167).

        Diablo Tango 1985 Edit

        • Music: ‘Valentino Tango’ Janko Nilovic
        • Known performance period 1985–1987
        • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes
        • Competition: World Professional Championships Washington 1985
          • Result: 1st (10, 10, 10, 10, 9.9, 9,9, 10.) Technical piece

          Another dance devised as part of their first World Tour, and also used to win as the technical piece in the 1985 World Professional Championships.

          This dance was Torvill and Dean's first real venture into humour. Later notable comic dances would be Hatrick, Low Commotion, and Trunk Tango, but this remains arguably the most slapstick. Dean's costume is Spanish in appearance, reflecting the Spanish music, consisting of an open-neck white shirt with a loose black tie, black trousers, and a large purple sash around his waist. Jayne is in a black 1920s' outfit, complete with arm-length gloves and basin hat.

          Shepherd's Song 1986 Edit

          • Music: Baylero – A Shepherd's Song from Songs of the Auvergne
          • Composer: Joseph Canteloube Sung by Kiri Te Kanawa
          • Known performance period: 1986
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

          This dance was designed specifically for the 1986 Sports Aid Gala, the proceeds of which went to causes in need in Africa. It is not clear whether it was ever performed again thereafter, but the photo caption on page 76 of Fire on Ice (Wilson:1994) suggests that it was then incorporated into the World Tour, at least for its next visit to Wembley.

          The lyrics are in fact those of a very simple old folk song depicting a Shepherd and Shepherdess calling to each other across mountain pastures. The booklet with the CD "A La Francaise" gives the following translation of the song:

          “Shepherd, across the water, you are scarcely having a good time,

          Sing bailero, lero, lero.
          Scarcely, and you?
          Sing bailero, lero.
          Shepherd, how do I get over there, there's a big stream, sing bailero, lero.
          Wait, I'll came and get you,

          Bailero, lero, lero.”

          The dance begins and ends most unusually with the dancers lying entwined together asleep on the ice. The opening depicting daybreak and the end nightfall. In the reverse of Bolero, it is Dean who steps onto the ice first and brings Jayne to her feet. The dance is highly balletic, with operatic movements incorporated. At one point in the dance Torvill and Dean encircle each other catching hold of each other's ice skate in constant succession creating a very beautiful, intricate and highly technical fluid movement. The costumes are very simple, with Torvill in white and Dean in a loose fitting armless shirt piece and brown trousers with white leg ties.

          Fire and Ice 1986 Edit

          • Music: Carl Davis
          • Written by: Tom Gutteridge
          • Directed by: Tom Gutteridge
          • Produced by: Nick Elliot
          • Produced and Filmed for LWT: 1986
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: Available on the Dancing on Ice 2006 DVD

          Torvill and Dean devised Fire and Ice in Australia with Graeme Murphy, sold it to LWT (London Weekend Television – part of ITV). It was written by Tom Gutteridge and Carl Davis and rehearsed and filmed in Germany ready for its UK television premier in Christmas 1986. [47]

          Fire and Ice is a full length company piece creating narrative ballet on ice. Set between the Planet of Fire and the Planet of Ice, it tells of a love story between a Prince of Fire and a Princess of Ice. It is a full set piece with visual designs and effects depicting different locations on the two planets and telling the story. The piece opens with Dean performing actually ballet within the catacombs of the Plant of Fire, while seeing Torvill in the blue flames of their altar. Upon diving in, he finds himself upon her planet. He meets her and, after taking some time to adapt to her planet, they fall in love. She gets called away to a Royal Ceremony but she rejoins him later. The following morning they are discovered and a violent attack is carried out on the Fire Prince by her own people. She pleads with her father to have mercy on him but he banishes her from his sight and the Fire Prince is left trapped in a prison of ice. Later the Ice Princess sneaks back to him and melts the ice with all her strength, leaving her close to death. The Fire Prince revives her and they are together once more. Meanwhile, the Prince's own people have witnessed his fate in the flames and have arrived on the Planet of Ice. A war breaks out which ends in the death of both the Prince's and Princess's fathers. Devastated and alone, they find each other once more and grieve. As time heals their wounds and their love endures, a distant archway appears towering over the icy mountains. We watch them make their journey towards the arch and finally enter and make their break for freedom and a new life together.

          Released all over the world on video and DVD, the production is unique in Torvill and Dean's repertoire – their feature film. The piece contains many dances between the two of them, some of them comic (including one where Dean is actually wearing ordinary shoes on the ice as he is learning to adapt), some of them romantic and passionate, and some of them highly dramatic, including dancing separately with the company dancers representing the people from their respective planets. For the most part, Dean wears a costume almost identical in design to his Song of India costume, only this time, rather than being red and orange, this one is red and burgundy, representing his fiery origins. Torvill wears an Ice Queen costume complete with crown, silver hair, and silver blue dress cut like icicles at the bottom.

          Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Medley 1987 Edit

          • Music: Irving Berlin: "Steppin' Out" / "Change Partners" and "Dance with Me" / "Cheek to Cheek" / "Puttin' On the Ritz" / "Top Hat"
          • Known performance period: 1987–1990
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

          This medley of Irving Berlin numbers danced in tribute to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers was devised for the brief tour Torvill and Dean did with the Ice Capades in 1987, [48] but continued as the final number throughout their long Russian All Stars Tour into 1990. For costumes Chris wore full white tie, waistcoat, and tails, while Jayne wore a flowing near full-length blue dress complete with blue feather boa. Although neatly choreographed with spectacular music and lighting effects, it was arguably not as evocative of Fred and Ginger or as technically accomplished as the amazing "Puttin' On the Ritz" routines that they performed at the Skate Canada Amateur exhibition in 1982. One impressive component however was the incorporation of tap steps on ice during the middle of the routine. During the All Stars Tour (and possibly the Ice Capades as well) they kept to a similar theme for the final bow, skating on with the company to I Got Rhythm.

          Eleanor's Dream 1987 Edit

          • Music: Eleanor Rigby – Paul McCartney
          • Performance period 1987
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: None known

          Little is known about this piece and it has never been released commercially and possibly never recorded. It was created as one of their pieces for the 1987 Ice Capades Tour. In their autobiography, Dean states that he passed on the dance for Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay to perform in 1988, and that the dance was about the relationship between a boy and a girl, with the boy breaking in upon the woman's dreams [49]

          Excerpt taken from: Torvill and Dean: Romancing the Ice – Ice Cycles 1988

          Both Dean and Torvill seem eager for responses to their new routines in the show and gratified with the verdict that everything is just great, with special accolades going to "Eleanor Rigby". It was their newest routine and it's a very interesting version of the song, undertaken with Paul McCartney, having little relation to the earlier Beatles recording. The version used was from the soundtrack of McCartney's film Give My Regards to Broad Street. Dean and Torvill hated the movie but really liked that version of the song.

          "It's sort of our version of a dream sequence," says Dean, referring to their routine. "And I'm Eleanor," Torvill says simply.

          Torvill is the fragile title character, clad in muted white with pastel tones across the costume. He is a kind of dream lover to her, dressed in mostly black he is both exciting and dangerous. She fears him, but she wants him too, and eventually her desire overcomes her fear. That is ultimately her undoing, as he twirls her round and round his body and she can do nothing but be manoeuvred at this will. It ends with her in a crucifix form across his back as he carries her off into the fog. She was right to fear him after all.

          Paganini 1987 Edit

          • Music: Nicolò Paganini
          • Known performance period 1987
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

          Paganini is a full Company Ballet choreographed by Tatiana Tarasova, with Torvill and Dean, together with lead dancer Yuri Ovchinikov as the leads. The performance consists of many highly balletic dances between Torvill and Dean and a few solo performances with the other company members present on the ice. The piece does evoke traditional Russian ballet and both Torvill and Dean perform extremely well throughout with many beautiful and unique moves. The costumes are simple – Chris in a flamboyant white shirt piece and Jayne all in white, very similar to, if not the same as, as her costume in Shepherd's Song. Originally filmed and performed for the one-off televised production with the Russian All Stars at the Luzhniki rink in Moscow in 1987, it is not clear whether it became a permanent part of the Russian All Stars Tour, but it seems likely that it was performed in at least the first five months of the Tour. It is not clear whether another company performance they were working on under Chris's choreography at the time, La Ronde, was ever completed or performed. It would appear that it was probably disbanded and replaced with Akhnaton.

          Excerpt taken from Torvill and Dean's autobiography: [50]

          Tatiana wanted to do a story of Paganini, portraying two sides to his character. Niccolo Paganini was many things: the greatest violin virtuoso of the last century, a composer, the megastar of his day, and romantic adventurer devoured by melancholy. He had seemed to Tatiana to be a perfect hero for Russian – a soul in conflict with himself. Yuri Ovchinikov would be dancing Paganini's crazy persona, Chris dancing the creative one, with Jayne as the great man's muse. Neither of us took to the number, but restrained ourselves for the sake of a peaceful life.

          Missing 1987 Edit

          • Music: Dolencias – Incantation
          • Known performance period 1987–1994
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

          Performed to South American music, this routine was always very dimly lit for performance, giving the impression of two people on the run, traveling at night and contending with the elements. Chris wears grey-brown trousers and shirt, with Jayne in a simple one-colour burnt red dress. The symmetry in this dance is stunning, particularly the spinning moves created specifically to demonstrate the despair of the dancers/characters. They performed this throughout the Russian All Stars Tour and at various exhibitions including the 1990 Sports Aid Gala and recreated it in 1994 for the American Artistry on Ice documentary.

          Excerpt taken from Torvill and Dean's autobiography (Facing the Music: 1995:201):

          One thing that required our attention was Chris's response to some Andean music, which reminded him of the terrible things – particularly the officially sanctioned kidnappings – that had been happening in Chile and Argentina in recent years. The subject was very much in the air after the Falklands War, and more recently the Costa Gavras movie, Missing. Chris saw in his mind those who had vanished, the fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, lovers, friends and children, and devised a series of movements linking two people who could be seen as friends or brother and sister, confronting authority, cowering before it, searching for lost loved ones, and ending where they started, in limbo.

          Akhnaton 1987 Edit

          • Music: Akhnaten – Philip Glass
          • Known performance period 1987–1989
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: Yes (YouTube)

          Akhnaton is another company performance devised for the Russian All Stars Tour that was never commercially released on film, and no known copies exist. The costumes were of traditional Egyptian royalty design. The piece received good reviews including repeated praise in the New York Times, and they refer to the piece regularly in their autobiography.

          Excerpt taken from Torvill and Dean's autobiography: [51]

          Chris had been interested for a while in ancient Middle Eastern history, and on a trip to London immersed himself in the Egyptian room of the British Museum. He liked the feel of the mythology, Isis and Osiris, Pharaoh as god, the idea of dying as rebirth into the real world, the richness of the funerary ornamentation, all that gold lapis lazuli, the stylised poses in the paintings, the hieroglyphics, and in particular the love story of Akhnaton and his queen Nefertiti. Then by chance we came across the CD of a new opera by Philip Glass, called, of all things Akhnaton. This is not exactly top ten material – minimalist style, vastly long phrases of repeated notes, but in mood just what Chris was looking for. All we needed was to reduce a three-hour epic to 30 minutes. To do that demanded total immersion in the story and imagery. It was an odd thing to do, which involved some long negotiations on our behalf with Philip Glass himself.

          The dance opened with a strong image to seize and hold the audience. A huge pyramid of silk, 25-foot square at its base, was being admired by modern tourists. Suddenly, a line attached to the top whipped the pyramid up and away, revealing the world of ordinary Egyptians in the 14th century BC, all in skirts and sandal-like skates. Chris as the Pharaoh made his entry carried on a throne, which led into a love sequence with Jayne as Nefertiti, then a rebellion by the people and a royal death, leaving Jayne/Nefertiti in mourning.

          Ragtime Poker 1987 Edit

          • Music:
          • Known performance period 1987–1990
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

          Widely available on the Russian All Stars video realised in 1990, the group number involved the whole company dressed up as a pack of cards – representing different suits, numbers, and court characters. It is a very lighthearted piece with little substance and was clearly provided as accessible comic relief from the other more demanding group pieces. Jayne and Chris come on at the end with the spades. Each dancer carries a large representing card, Jayne's is the Queen of Spades and Chris's is the King. Jayne skates mainly with the female skaters in a group with Chris joining them, defending them from the comic advances of the Joker in the pack. Chris wears black trousers, white shirt and waistcoat, with a sparkly red bowtie and jacket with gold lapels. Jayne has a very short flashy red dress with a spade in the middle.

          Snow Maiden 1987 Edit

          • Music: The Procession of the Tsar Berendy – Rimski-Koraskov
          • Known performance period 1987–1990
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

          Presumably designed at the beginning of the All Stars Tour, though possibly not until later in the run, this is something of a forgotten masterpiece, even though it has always been available on the Russian All Stars video. Both are dressed in shiny white outfits with blue and mauve embroidery. The ice is lit a wintry blue and the movements take full advantage of the images of Husky-drawn sleighs, winter pageants, and snow-covered landscapes that the music evokes so successfully. The dance is immensely fast and yet graceful at the same time. It actually begins in a static lift already posed as the lights go up, and it contains many large lifts from then on. Jayne leaps effortlessly onto Chris's shoulders on a number of occasions and, in one move, even leaps all the way round him, going above his head, with seemingly very little assistance (they later incorporated this move into Mack and Mabel for their Face the Music Tour in the mid '90s). It contains many symmetrical dance steps and large sweeping arm gestures, with a succession of impressive lifts and a series of symmetrical jumps and leaps carried out in perfect unison with each other, giving the impression of animals running through the forest. Unique to this dance is a series of two symmetrical steps where they literally leap high into the air together but leaning forward with their inside leg bent as they plunge back to the ground, putting their outside leg straight out behind them. The move actually makes them look like two stags leaping and bounding and thrusting their antlers forward. The piece ends with Jayne throwing herself onto Chris, who bends with Jayne balanced on his knees and allows himself to fall flat on to his back, ending with Jayne suspended in the air held up by Chris, forming a dramatic and very beautiful final tableau as Chris continues to glide across the ice on his back.

          Echoes of Ireland 1989 Edit

          • Music:
          • Known performance period 1989–1992
          • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes
          • Competition: Challenge of the Champions Innsbruck Austria 1990
            • Result: 1st (10,10,10,10,10,10,10 – Artistic) (10,10,10,9.9,10,10,9.9 – Technical)

            Devised initially as one of the new extra pieces for the second leg of the Russian All Stars Tour, this piece went on to be performed for competition to win the World Professional Championships in 1990, and they were still performing a section of it by their 1992 Ukrainian Tour. In the 1992 “Simply the Best” documentary, Chris states “in Echoes of Ireland we visited the country to get an idea of the people and their music before we choreographed this piece for the ice”. The finished piece is actually an ensemble of three quite separate routines, which they later performed in different orders or simply on their own. The first is a tradition lighthearted Irish jig with some very clever footwork. The second is a more sombre dance done to older tradition Irish Folk music. The third piece is a more modern piece, a very beautiful new age number done to a song sung by an Irish female artist. This final dance includes an unusual lift where Jayne jumps up and sits high upon one of Chris's shoulders facing the opposite way from him. The costumes consist of brown trousers, cream shirt, yellow neckerchief, and green-check waistcoat for Chris, and an off-orange dress with embroidered collar and sleeves and white apron for Jayne.

            Revolution / Imagine 1989 Edit

            • Music: Revolution – The Beatles / Imagine – John Lennon
            • Known performance period 1989–1990
            • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes
            • Competition: World Professional Championships
              • Result: 1st (10,9.9,10,9.9,10,10,10)

              Performed during the latter half of the All Stars Tour and also used to win the 1990 World Professional Championships, this piece is very different from any other they performed. It was highly technical, physically demanding with a lot of high and drawn-out lifts, and visually very impressive. True to the style of the music, Revolution is extremely fast-paced and performed with an aggression that neither had displayed before. The movements express violence, dissent, anguish, and entrapment. The costumes were very sophisticated in style: Chris wore back trousers, white open-necked shirt, and a smart black and purple waistcoat, while Jayne wore black trousers and a voluminous white silk blouse. What was particularly unusual about Jayne's costume was that she actually wore black skates to blend right in with her trousers. While Chris always wore skates the dominant colour of his costume, even when in trousers Jayne rarely did, consistently skating in white skates in nearly all routines.

              Excerpt taken from Torvill and Dean's autobiography (Facing the Music: 1995:227–228):

              Revolution was most ambitious. Its inspiration was a Montréal dance group we had seen in Sydney with the odd name of La La La Human Steps, whose rapid, machine-gun, staccato movements were unlike anything we had seen before. Chris thought the technique might be adapted for the ice, if we replaced the dancers’ lifts and throws with quick-fire upper-body movements. It was long, fast and very testing, not only of our abilities as dancers, but also as actors, in particular Jayne, who had to go completely against character, with vicious movements and displays of anger. That was new, not only for her: nobody to our knowledge had done anything like this on ice before.

              In the 1991 Blade Runners documentary Jayne says:

              “I didn't like Revolution at first because I'm not an aggressive person, so it was good that he pushed it because it brought out another side of me – another character that I could portray”. Chris then goes on to explain the theme of the piece, and explains how it leads into imagine and why the perform the two pieces together: “the idea is of it's a young couple that have been married for a few years and it's not that fairytale life of happiness. Which happens to a lot of people – that something goes wrong and tension builds and anger grows within that. And I wanted to put that onto the ice – this raw aggression – and overstate it – so that, for people sitting right the way back, it becomes literal though body. But it follows on in a sort of resolve – not necessarily a happy ending – it then goes into Imagine. Maybe there is something else, maybe there is a compromise or at least an understanding of their situation. They may not get back together or it may not be resolved but they've analysed that they have a problem and maybe there is something to work towards and achieve a happier solution”.

              Arc of the Bell 1989 Edit

              Music: Arvo Part Known performance period 1989–1990 Versions available on video/DVD or internet: none known

              Little is known of this piece other than it is a modern piece by composer Arvo Part (source: Facing the Music: 1995:227). It has never been commercially available and no footage has come to light on the internet. [ citation needed ] It was the third routine designed in 1989 for the second leg of the Russian All Stars Tour.

              Oscar Tango 1990 Edit

              • Music: Simon Jeffes & Piers Harry
              • Known performance period: 1990–1992
              • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes
              • Competition: World Professional Championships
                • Result: 1st

                When Torvill and Dean decided to compete professionally again in 1990, they used three pieces already designed for both the Ice Capades and the Russian All Stars, but Oscar Tango was the one new piece specifically designed as the technical routine for the World Professional Championships, which they went on to win. The piece is entirely unique in that the first minute and a half is skated in total silence, with the music only beginning after this time. In that time Jayne and Chris stamp out a series of extremely precise, sharp, and fast tango steps entirely separately from each other, but in complete unison and perfect split-second timing. In the “Story So Far. ” video released in 1996, Chris explains that “the movements in the silence represent the typical tango, but as the music begins we wanted to express the inner feelings of these two dancers”. However, it could also be interpreted that they are dancing with other partners during the silence (both hold a stance as if miming holding an invisible partner) for whom they feel no connection, only to lose all rigidity when they find each other, instead experiencing total connection, fluidity of movement, and emotion through dancing with each other. The costumes were a patterned blend of sky, royal, and navy blues starting light at the top and getting gradually darker. A lot of new moves were created for this piece, many of which they would call upon again throughout the routines they devised from 1994–1998. This included a whole series of moves that were lifted direct from Oscar Tango and placed within the Olympic version of ‘Lets Face the Music’, moves that were to be repeated in ‘In My Life’, and a highly strenuous move whereby Chris lifts Jayne upside down and she puts her legs vertically in the air high above his head before swinging them back down to lie vertically across Chris balancing on his bent knees. This move was used again in ‘In Trutina’ during their 1995–96 World Tour and again for ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ also devised in 1995. They created the move once more in 2006, this time incorporating it into their shortened and redesigned version of Bolero.

                Iceworks / Tilt 1991 Edit

                • Music: Andy Sheppard
                • Known performance period: 1991
                • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

                In 1990, the BBC programme Omnibus approached Torvill and Dean to do a programme on their choreography. The documentary focused on how their choreography had advanced during their professional years, away from the rigid rules of amateur competition, focusing on the comic performance of Hat Trick, the political expression of Missing, the technical accomplishment of Oscar Tango, and the stylistic performance of Revolution / Imagine. The documentary also scored a first by persuading Chris and Jayne to produce an entirely new dance especially for it. The piece was named Iceworks for the documentary but later named Tilt when performed at events. As a televisual piece Iceworks was able to have dry ice effects, an artistic backdrop, and highly evocative lighting effects. The up-and-coming Jazz composer Andy Sheppard was asked to compose an entirely new piece of music specifically for the routine, and Chris worked closely with him on the composition process. The music was derived initially by blending saxophone with the sound of Chris and Jayne's blades gliding across the ice thereafter a beat kicks in together with a slightly ethereal simple tune. The costumes consisted of matching (though not identical) all-in-one tight-fitting pieces consisting of a mix of pastel colours: yellow, pink, mauve, and blue.

                Designing this dance was fraught with difficulty for both Chris and Jayne:

                “I couldn't relate to the stark, modern music that had been commissioned by the Omnibus people. To be frank, I couldn't understand Chris's ideas for the music, couldn't understand what he was trying to get me to do” (source: Facing the Music: 1995:227–228). They were working to a tight deadline for the programme but in the end the pressure became too much and the programme was delayed with the BBC's agreement. Jayne took a two-week break with her just-married husband Phil Christensen before returning to start work with Chris on Oscar Tango. Iceworks was later completed for transmission as part of Omnibus in 1991, and achieved the highest viewing figures ever for the programme.

                Skater's Waltz 1992 (Group Number) Edit

                • Music: Waldteufel
                • Known performance period: 1992
                • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: none known

                This was the opening number of the 1992 Best of Torvill and Dean Tour that they performed with a Ukrainian ice dancing company. Only a small clip of it is known to be available on the internet, so not an awful lot is known about the dance except that it is a group number with Torvill and Dean performing with the whole company. Their costumes in this piece are possibly their most unusual of any of their performances. Jayne wears a white fur hat and a blue velvet dress with white fur finish and ornate and decorative gold ties and buttons pattern in the middle. Chris similarly wears a blue velvet top piece with the same gold effect, white trousers with a single blue stripe on each leg, and a velvet blue jacket with fur finish slung over his shoulder throughout the routine. The final section of this show had a weather theme, and the final bow call was done to Over the Rainbow which has the whole company skate on, with Torvill and Dean arriving last to take their bow last with the whole company.

                Stormy Weather 1992 Edit

                • Music: Harold Arien and Ted Koechier
                • Known Performance Period: 1992
                • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

                A love-on-the-rocks number, with similarities in theme to Revolution, but this piece is more suggestive of heartbreak and rejection, possibly that of a couple going through divorce or the discovery of an affair or some other deception. Chris wears the same pale grey-blue outfit that he wears for the later performances of Encounter, while Jayne wears a stunning silky grey-silver dress that swirls out at the bottom and genuinely does conjure an image of storm clouds. It is a very fluid piece with a lot of swinging motions.

                Low Commotion 1992 Edit

                • Music: Ry Cooder
                • Known Performance Period: 1992
                • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

                Another unique piece where Chris and Jayne really experiment with a new type of music and a very different type of footwork. The routine is very fast and demanding, including a section where they skate backwards away from each other and back in a series of three, each time bringing their inside blades within inches of each other, relying on absolutely perfect judgement. Many of Torvill and Dean's routines involve the display of one particular move three times in a row and this routine plays a joke on this concept when Chris flips Jayne over 360 twice in a row, with Jayne flipping Chris the third time and then flexing her muscles at the audience. They perform the routine in Texas-style barn dance costumes, both in straw hat and blue denim dungarees, Jayne with a red and white check lumberjack shirt, pigtails, and freckles, and Chris wearing a neckerchief. In the 1992 Simply the Best documentary Jayne explains that the characters are based loosely on those in The Tales of Tom Sawyer. The dance is extremely fast, but then when the music peters out at the end, the dancers seem to lose interest or even remember what they were doing and they just stroll off the ice. There was a company piece called Hoedown which either preceded or followed this routine, but it is not clear whether or not Torvill and Dean were actually in the group number.

                Drum Duet 1993 Edit

                • Music: Genesis
                • Known Performance Period: 1993
                • Versions available on video/DVD or internet: yes

                This was the last new routine that they choreographed before they began work on their Olympic routines. The costumes are extremely colourful and deliberately clashing. Torvill wears pink leggings, red shirt, and orange waistcoat, and Dean wears blue trousers, purple, pink, and blue shirt, and garish blue waistcoat. The music is a series of drumbeats/percussion to which they skate in a long series of intricate steps at speed across the ice. This includes a lot of fast backwards sections, separate jumps, twists, and turns in complete unison. The piece was designed for their stint as guest artists on the Tom Collins Tour of World Figure Skating Champions.

                1994 to 1998 Edit

                • In Trutina 1994
                • Paperback Writer 1994
                • In My Life 1994
                • Lucy in the Sky 1994 1995
                • Bridge Over Troubled Water 1995
                • Still Crazy 1995 (performed again in 1998 as their final dance before retiring)
                • Six Gestures 1996
                • Take Five 1996
                • Mumbo Jumbo 1997
                • Red Hat 1997
                • Winter Express 1997
                • Exotic Fish 1997
                • Jazz Fish 1997
                • Flying Fish 1997
                • The Hockey Event 1997
                • Only He Will Do 1997
                • New Year's Eve Final 1997
                • Still Crazy 1998

                Torvill and Dean have performed several times during each TV series.

                • "Let's Face the Music" & Barnum tributes
                • "Viva Las Vegas"
                • "Let Me Entertain You"
                • "Foot Loose"
                • "Angels"
                • "Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)"
                • "A Kind of Magic"
                • "Imagine"
                • "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"
                • "I Like The Way (You Move)"
                • "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'"
                • "Shine"
                • "Puttin' On the Ritz"
                • "Moondance"
                • "Over the Rainbow"
                • Boléro Unplugged
                • "Gold"
                • "Get the Party Started" (Shirley Bassey version)
                • "Feelin' Good" (Michael Bublé version)
                • "World of our Own"
                • "One" (Jayne with ensemble)
                • "Fields of Gold"
                • Sixties-themed Group Number
                • "Valerie"
                • "Sway" (The Pussycat Dolls version)
                • "Footprints in the Sand"
                • Boléro revisited (with Julian Lloyd Webber)
                • "The Best Is Yet to Come"
                • "Swing with Me"
                • "From A Distance" (with Bette Midler)
                • "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (Group Number)
                • "Let It Go" (with Will Young)
                • "It's Raining Men" (Group Number)
                • "Save the Last Dance for Me" (Michael Bublé version)
                • "Untouchable" (with Girls Aloud)
                • Boléro
                  (with Katherine Jenkins)
              • "Use Somebody" (with Pixie Lott)
              • "Your Song" (with Ellie Goulding)
              • "Haven't Met You Yet"
              • Boléro
                • "Let's Get It Started"
                • "Copacabana" (pros number)
                • "Yellow" (with sand artist David Myriam) to "Dance With Me"
                • "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (The Overtones version)
                • "What The World Needs Now Is Love" (sung by Rumer)
                • Boléro (with David Garrett)
                • "The Edge of Glory"
                • "Jar of Hearts" (with Christina Perri)
                • Boléro
                • "Better Together"
                • "Accentuate the Positive" (with Jools Holland's Rhythm Blues and Blues Orchestra and Rumer)
                • "Never Tear Us Apart" (INXS version)
                • Boléro
                • "In My Life" (with Rebecca Ferguson)
                • "The Power of Love"
                • "Let's Face the Music and Dance"
                • Boléro
                • "The Impossible Dream (The Quest)"
                • "You've Got a Friend in Me"
                • "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
                • "Just the Two of Us"
                • "One Day Like This"

                In July 2018, it was announced that Torvill & Dean a biopic docudrama, had been commissioned by ITV, written by William Ivory and produced by Darlow Smithson. The movie was broadcast on 25 December 2018, with actor Will Tudor playing the role of Christopher Dean, and actress Poppy Lee Friar playing the role as Jayne Torvill. Nottingham actress Cassie Bradley delivered a scene stealing performance as Leanne, Dean's first partner. Bradley performed all her own skating for the role. [52]


                A red, white and blue Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984

                EDITORS With the Tokyo Olympics postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press is looking back at the history of Summer Games. Here are some of the highlights of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

                The streak kept growing, something Edwin Moses was reminded of every time he stepped on the track. By the time he got to Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympics it had been seven years and 104 races since someone had finished ahead of him in the 400-meter hurdles.

                Nobody could beat Moses. Thats just the way it was, which made it foregone conclusion among most in track and field that the gold medal would be his.

                That the Soviets wouldnt be there because of a revenge boycott made it even more of a lock. Same with the East Germans, and their weirdly muscular bodies.

                But Moses still had to deliver in the Olympic final on a beautiful Sunday evening at the LA Coliseum. And one of the greatest track athletes of all time did just that, grabbing such a big lead he was able to ease up at the finish line to collect his second Olympic gold medal.

                I took nothing for granted because there was no margin for errors, Moses said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. Youre jumping over things at a high rate of speed, and anything could happen.

                Moses did stumble over some of the words to the athletes pledge he was picked to recite to open the games, so the Olympics werent perfect for him. But after winning gold in Montreal in 1976 and then losing a chance to compete when the U.S. boycotted the 1980 games in Moscow, he was finally a multiple Olympic gold medalist.

                Moses was a lot of other things, too, including being a leader in allow Olympic athletes to be paid. A few years earlier he played a big role in getting Olympic officials to change strict amateurism rules, and was making $400,000 a year - unheard of for a track athlete - as he went into the Games.

                Moses was also a prominent athletes voice in favor of widespread testing for steroids after seeing in 1976 what the East Germans and others were doing.

                Id never seen anything like that in my life, he said. I was shocked to see women have a build like that, with hairy legs and deep voices. I saw how they blew our women away, and the men too. It was very disturbing to me.

                With much of the Eastern Bloc boycotting, Americans dominated at the first Summer Olympics in the U.S. since Los Angeles hosted in 1932.

                At a time the Olympics were on shaky financial ground and having trouble finding host cities, Peter Ueberroth stepped up and promised an Olympics that would cost Los Angeles taxpayers nothing. He delivered using mostly existing venues including the Coliseum that hosted the 1932 Games.

                The naysayers said it couldnt be done, and that LA would sink financially while there would be horrendous traffic jams on the freeways. But the Games ended up to be both a financial and athletic success.

                They were also a one-sided showcase of American superiority, with the host country winning 83 gold medals while no other country won more than 20. And they delivered what Ueberroth promised, a $223 million profit that is still being used today by the LA84 Foundation to fund youth sports in Southern California.

                Its been a beautiful gift to the city of Los Angeles and the 3.5 million kids that have been impacted by what the foundation has been able to do," said Renata Simril, president and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. And the Olympics themselves were a moment on which the spirit of LA and the Olympic movement are all about. I meet people all the time and the first thing they want to tell me is their LA84 stories."

                Among the highlights of the American-dominated games — fittingly with a mascot of Sam the Eagle were:

                Lewis made the Coliseum his own personal playground, winning four gold medals to match the record of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. Lewis did it in the same events as Owens, winning the 100 and 200-meter sprints and anchoring the 4-by-100 relay. He added a fourth in the long jump to cement his place in Olympic history. Lewis would go on to win nine gold medals over four Olympics.

                Mary Lou Retton would get on a Wheaties box for becoming the first U.S. gymnast to win gold medal in womens overall. The U.S. men also won a gold team medal, but it was Romanias Ecaterina Szabo who landed the biggest haul with four golds and a silver.

                With no Soviets and no Cubans, Americans dominated boxing, winning 9 of 12 golds plus a silver. Evander Holyfield won the other US medal, a bronze, after being disqualified in the semifinals for knocking out New Zealands Kevin Barry with a punch that officials said came after the referee called for a break.

                The first womens marathon was won by Joan Benoit of the U.S. Another American track favorite didnt fare as well. Mary Decker was picked to win gold in the womens 3,000-meter final but tripped over the bare feet of South Africas Zola Budd and fell to the track, writhing in pain. A tearful Decker claimed Budd had bumped into her, but officials ruled the results of the race would stand.

                Participating in its first summer Olympics since 1952, China served notice it would become a sports power by winning 15 golds and 31 medals overall. Chinese athletes became favorites of the LA fans, who also supported the Romanians because they had defied the Soviet boycott to compete in LA.

                Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


                Watch the video: 2014 Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony (August 2022).