To counter the boycotts of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the Soviet Union and 14 of its Eastern Bloc partners refused to compete in the Los Angeles Games. (David McNew/Getty Images)
Past Olympic boycotts
Last Updated Mon., March 31, 2008
By Lindsey Craig, CBC Sports
With the eyes of the world on the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, a glance at past Olympic Games when countries withdrew from competition to make their voices heard.1956 Melbourne Olympics
- To protest against the Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland withdrew from Melbourne.
- In response to the Suez Crisis, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon announced they would not compete.
- The People's Republic of China boycotted the Melbourne Games to retaliate against Taiwan's participation under the name "Formosa."
- A total of 67 nations competed.
- More than 20 African countries boycotted Montreal after New Zealand was allowed to compete. The IOC was pressured to ban New Zealand because it sent its national rugby team, the All Blacks, to play in South Africa. South Africa was banned from the Olympics from 1964 to 1988 due to its apartheid policies. In 1976, the IOC defended its decision to include New Zealand by stating that rugby was not an Olympic sport.
- Taiwan also did not participate because Canada refused to recognize it as an independent nation.
- Only 92 countries participated in the Montreal Games, down from 121 countries that competed in Munich 1972.
- The 1980 Moscow Games saw the largest boycott in Olympic history. More than 60 nations, including Canada, refused to compete in an American-led protest against the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. As a result, only 81 countries participated.
- To counter the boycotts of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the Soviet Union and 14 of its Eastern Bloc partners refused to compete in the Los Angeles Olympics. It cited concerns over the safety of Soviet athletes, but some saw it as revenge for the Moscow boycott.
- Iran and Libya also refused to participate due to tensions with the United States. Iran was the only country to boycott both the 1980 and 1984 events.
- Despite this, 140 countries took part in the Los Angeles Games.
- When South Korea refused to let North Korea co-host the Games, North Korea pulled out. Cuba and Ethiopia also boycotted the event.
- 159 countries competed.