What were Friendship Games?

The boycott of the Olympics has been rampant throughout the history of the Summer and Winter Olympics. The reasons for the protest included human rights violations in host countries, objections to the inclusion or exclusion of other countries, discriminatory policies by host nations and differences between countries. While some boycotts were considered as principles, others were defined as a petulant act of revenge like the 1984 boycott by the countries in the spheres of the Soviet Union (later nicknamed the Eastern bloc). The boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games of the 14 countries led to the staging of an alternative event that was nicknamed Friendship Games or Alternative Olympic Games. The Friendship Games, commonly known as Friendship-84,

The boycott

Los Angeles won the 1984 Olympic Games without opposition, as no other city had offered. However, when the games were held in Los Angeles, many years had passed since some of the most successful countries in the Olympic Games had hosted the event. The Soviet Union announced that it would not take part in the 50th Olympic Games the day the Olympic Torch left New York for Los Angeles. Security concerns were given as a reason for the boycott, but many perceived political motivation. Moscow assured the IOC that it would not support any alternative game that would undermine the spirit of the Olympics. The same day, the boycott was announced, a Soviet news agency accused the United States of using the games for personal gains. Bulgaria, East Germany, Mongolia and Vietnam were the first to join the boycott. In May 1984, 14, Poland announced that the Eastern bloc would sponsor sporting events in various countries as a substitute for the Los Angeles Olympic Games, holding them on different dates with the Olympic Games. The games have been dubbed Friendship Games.

Participating nations

About 8,000 athletes were expected to take part in the Friendship Games, but the number was reduced to just over 2,300 after some countries withdrew from the events. However, even the expected participants did not show up. The athletes who participated in the event were drawn from 49 countries, most of them Soviet allies. The games were hosted in nine countries including Bulgaria, Poland, the Soviet Union, Mongolia, North Korea and Hungary, among others. The games included the 22 Olympic disciplines and additional filming for non-Olympic women. The Soviet Union won the medal table with 126 gold medals, followed respectively by East Germany and Bulgaria with the 50 and 21 gold medals. Zimbabwe, Sweden and Finland each managed a bronze medal. A total of 242 gold medal, 233 silver and 266 bronze medals were awarded to the winners of the various disciplines.

Comparison between 1984 Olympic Games and Frienship-84

The Eastern Bloc athletes performed better than their Olympic counterparts. Over sixty of the Friendship Games participants would have secured medals at the Olympic Games. However, the different conditions and equipment have unjustified comparisons between the two events. While the Friendship Games athletes outperformed their Olympic counterparts, they couldn’t do the same in the events after both games. The Friendship Games was much more than just an event, but it also paved the way for political expression with the head of the Soviet Union Olympic Committee calling the Los Angeles games full of chauvinism and mass psychosis.

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