Decentring US sports diplomacy
The 1980 Moscow boycott through contemporary Asian–African perspectives
in Sport and diplomacy
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The chapter re-evaluates the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Summer Games, challenging the conventional wisdom that that boycott was a failure. Historians of sport and diplomacy have usually studied the 1980 boycott through the strained efforts of the Carter administration’s clumsy struggles to rally NATO allies, Australia and traditional Olympic sporting powers into not going to Moscow in retaliation for the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In fact, American sports diplomacy might be judged differently when seen from the perspectives of non-Western and non-sporting nations, particularly in Africa and Asia. More precisely, engagement in the boycott suited nationalistic purpose as perceived in 1980. ‘Carter’s boycott’ was effectively localised/nationalised, if outside Carter’s stated aim of making the Soviets pay a price for their aggression in Afghanistan. Rather than reading the 1980 boycott through the lens of the Soviet invasion and the beginnings of the Second Cold War, contemporary non-Western perspectives on the boycott showed a wide breath of positive interpretations/results from Olympic non-participation– ranging from public display of governmental fiscal austerity by corrupt regimes, to support for a growing pan-Islamic movement, to enforcing authoritarian rule at home.

Sport and diplomacy

Games within games

Editor: J. Simon Rofe

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