221 in 21 sports
Los Angeles, California, United States
6,829(5,263 men, 1,566 women)
The 1984 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in Los Angeles, California, United States in 1984. When Tehran, the only other interested city on the international level, declined to bid due to the concurrent Iranian political and social changes, the IOC awarded Los Angeles the Games by default. This was the second occasion Los Angeles hosted the games, the first being in 1932.
- Host selection
- Torch relay
- Arts Festival
- Track and field
- Other sports
- Post Closing Ceremony Fanfare
- Los Angeles venues
- Southern California venues
- Other venues
- Medals awarded
- Demonstration sports
- Medal count
- Participating National Olympic Committees
- Boycotting countries
- Los Angeles as host city
- In popular culture
- Broadcast rights
In response to the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, 14 Eastern Bloc countries, including the Soviet Union, Cuba and East Germany, boycotted the Games; only Romania and Yugoslavia elected to attend. For differing reasons, Iran and Libya also boycotted. The USSR announced its intention not to participate on May 8, 1984, citing security concerns and "chauvinistic sentiments and an anti-Soviet hysteria being whipped up in the United States." Boycotting countries organized another large event in June–September 1984, called the Friendship Games; however, not even a single competition was held between July 28 and August 12. Representatives of the organizing countries, the Soviets in particular, underlined it was "not held to replace the Olympics". Elite athletes from the U.S. and USSR would only compete against each other at the 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow, organized in response to the boycotts.
Where ambitious construction for the 1976 games in Montreal and 1980 games in Moscow had saddled organizers with expenses greatly in excess of revenues, Los Angeles strictly controlled expenses by using existing facilities except a swim stadium and a velodrome that were paid for by corporate sponsors. The Olympic Committee led by Peter Ueberroth used some of the profits to endow the LA84 Foundation to promote youth sports in Southern California, educate coaches and maintain a sports library. The 1984 Summer Olympics are often considered the most financially successful modern Olympics.
The host state of California was the home state of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who officially opened the Games. He had served as Governor of California from 1967 to 1975. The official mascot of the Los Angeles Games was Sam the Olympic Eagle. The logo of the games featured five blue, white and red stars arranged horizontally and struck through with alternating streaks; it was named "Stars in Motion." These were the first Summer Olympic Games under the IOC presidency of Juan Antonio Samaranch.
On July 18, 2009, a 25th anniversary celebration was held in the main stadium. This celebration included a speech by the former president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, Ueberroth, and a re-creation of the lighting of the cauldron.
After the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists in Munich (1972) and significant financial debts of Montreal (1976), few cities by the late 1970s were willing to bid for the Summer Games. Only two cities -Tehran and Los Angeles- made serious bids for the 1984 Summer Games. But before a "winning" city could be anointed in 1978, Tehran, too, dropped out. Hence, the selection process for the 1984 Summer Olympics consisted of a single finalized bid, with the International Olympic Committee accepting the bid of Los Angeles. The bid from Tehran was withdrawn before the selection as a result of Iran's policy changes following the Iranian Revolution and change of the country's ruling system.
Los Angeles had unsuccessfully bid for the two previous Summer Olympics, for 1976 and 1980. The United States Olympic Committee had at least one bid for every Olympics since 1944, but had not succeeded since the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932, the previous time a single bid had been issued for the Summer Olympics.
The 1984 Olympic Torch Relay began in New York City and ended in Los Angeles, traversing 33 states and the District of Columbia. Unlike later torch relays, the torch was continuously carried by runners on foot. The route covered more than 9,320 mi (15,000 km) and involved 3,636 runners, including 200 from the sponsoring company AT&T. Noted athlete O.J. Simpson was among the runners, carrying the torch up the California Incline in Santa Monica. Gina Hemphill, granddaughter of Jesse Owens, carried the torch into the Coliseum, completed a lap around the track, then handed it off to the final runner, Rafer Johnson, winner of the decathlon at the 1960 Summer Olympics. With the torch, he touched off the flame which passed through a specially designed flammable Olympic logo, igniting all five rings. The flame then passed up to cauldron atop the peristyle and remained aflame for the duration of the Games.
John Williams composed the theme for the Olympiad, "Olympic Fanfare and Theme". This piece won a Grammy for Williams and became one of the most well-known musical themes of the Olympic Games, along with Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream"; the latter is sometimes attached to the beginning of Olympic Fanfare and Theme. Composer Bill Conti also wrote a song to inspire the weightlifters called "Power". An album, The Official Music of the XXIII Olympiad—Los Angeles 1984, featured three of those tracks along with sports themes written for the occasion by popular musical artists including Foreigner, Toto, Loverboy, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Christopher Cross, Philip Glass and Giorgio Moroder.
The Brazilian composer Sérgio Mendes also produced a special song for the 1984 Olympic Games, "Olympia," from his 1984 album Confetti. A choir of approximately one thousand voices was assembled of singers in the region. All were volunteers from nearby churches, schools and universities.
The 1984 Summer Olympics was preceded by the 10-week-long adjunct Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival, which opened on June 2 and ended on August 12. It provided more than 400 performances by 146 theater, dance and music companies, representing every continent and 18 countries. It was organized by then-CalArts President Robert Fitzpatrick.
Track and field
Post Closing Ceremony Fanfare
Los Angeles venues
Southern California venues
The Oxford Olympics Study established the outturn cost of the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics at USD 719 million in 2015-dollars. This includes sports-related costs only, that is, (i) operational costs incurred by the organizing committee for the purpose of staging the Games, e.g., expenditures for technology, transportation, workforce, administration, security, catering, ceremonies, and medical services, and (ii) direct capital costs incurred by the host city and country or private investors to build, e.g., the competition venues, the Olympic village, international broadcast center, and media and press center, which are required to host the Games. Indirect capital costs are not included, such as for road, rail, or airport infrastructure, or for hotel upgrades or other business investment incurred in preparation for the Games but not directly related to staging the Games. The cost for Los Angeles 1984 compares with costs of USD 4.6 billion for Rio 2016 and USD 15 billion for London 2012, the most expensive Summer Olympics to date. Average cost for the Summer Games since 1960 is USD 5.2 billion.
The 1984 Summer Olympic program featured 221 events in the following 21 sports:
CalendarAll times are in Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7); the other two cities, Boston and Annapolis uses Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)
These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1984 Games.
Participating National Olympic Committees
Athletes from 140 nations competed at the Los Angeles Games. The following countries made their first Olympic appearance in 1984: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, British Virgin Islands, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Grenada, Mauritania, Mauritius, North Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and the United Arab Emirates. Zaire had competed previously as Congo Kinshasa. The People's Republic of China made their first appearance in a Summer Olympics since 1952, while for the first time the Republic of China team participated under the politically made-up name as Chinese Taipei.
The Soviet Union led the Warsaw Pact and other Communist and Socialist countries on a boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics, in retaliation for the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow over the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. However, a handful of Socialist countries disregarded the boycott and attended anyway. Among them were Yugoslavia (which hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics), the People's Republic of China, and Romania. The fact that Romania, a Warsaw Pact country, opted to compete despite Soviet demands led to a warm reception of the Romanian team by the United States. When the Romanian athletes entered during the opening ceremonies, they received a standing ovation from the spectators, which comprised mostly U.S. citizens. Romania won 53 medals, including 20 golds, more than the nation has in any other Olympics.
The number of athletes representing that nation is shown in parentheses:
Fourteen countries took part in the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games:
Albania, Iran and Libya also boycotted the games, citing political reasons, but were not a part of the Soviet-led boycott. Albania and Iran were the only countries to boycott both the 1980 and 1984 events.
Los Angeles as host city
Following the news of the massive financial losses of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, only Los Angeles and New York City expressed serious interest in hosting the 1984 games. Given only one city per country is allowed to bid for any Games, the USOC vote for an American bid city was essentially the deciding vote for the 1984 Olympics host city. In this case, Los Angeles's bid won by a vote of 55 to 39. New York City's 1984 bid fell 16 votes shy of winning the Games and is the closest the city has ever come to becoming a host city for the Olympics, coming even closer than they did in their 2012 bid (when they lost to London respectively).
The low level of interest among cities was seen as a major threat to the future of the Olympic Games. However, with the financially successful Los Angeles Games, cities began to line up to be hosts again. The Los Angeles and Montreal Games are seen as examples of what to do and what not to do when organizing the Olympics, and serve as object lessons to prospective host cities. Montreal organizers had run up a substantial debt eight years earlier by constructing many new, overly ambitiously designed venues, but as the only bidding city the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee was able to extract concessions from the IOC: namely, that the city would not be responsible for any cost overruns and that it could use area venues that were already in existence, particularly the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was also the Olympic Stadium for the 1932 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Velodrome and the Olympic Swim Stadium, funded largely by the 7-Eleven and McDonald's corporations respectively, were the only two new venues constructed specifically for the L.A. Games. The resulting low construction costs, coupled with a heavy reliance on private corporate funding, allowed the Games to generate a profit of more than $200 million, making them by far the most financially successful in history.
In addition to corporate support, the Olympic committee also made use of the burgeoning prices being paid for exclusive television rights. Starting with the Los Angeles Games, these contracts would be a significant source of revenue. Adjusted for inflation, the Los Angeles Games received twice the amount received by the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics and four times that of the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. Because these contracts were signed well in advance of the Games, Los Angeles found itself in an easier planning position as most of its revenue was already assured before the Games. On September 1, 2015, Los Angeles has been chosen as the U.S. candidate to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
In popular culture
McDonald's ran a promotion entitled "When the U.S. Wins, You Win" where customers scratched off a ticket with the name of an Olympic event on it, and if the U.S. won that event then they would be given a free menu item: a Big Mac for a gold medal, an order of french fries for a silver medal, and a Coca-Cola for a bronze medal. The promotion became a near financial disaster due to the Soviet boycott which led to the U.S. winning far more Olympic medals than expected.
This promotion was parodied in the The Simpsons episode "Lisa's First Word", where Krusty Burger runs a similar offer. The promotion was intended to be rigged so that prizes would only be offered in events dominated by the Eastern Bloc, but the Soviet-led boycott causes Krusty to personally lose $44 million. He vehemently promises "to spit in every fiftieth burger," to which Homer retorts "I like those odds!" Chief Wiggum also exclaims that he could kiss Carl Lewis, who won four gold medals at the Games.
On NCIS, Tim McGee has an obsession with jet packs, stemming from having attended the 1984 Olympic ceremony as a child and having Bill Suitor fly over his head in his jet pack. This storyline is based on the real experience of executive producer and writer Jesse Stern.
Pop punk band Bowling For Soup references the games in the song "I Can't Stand LA". During a section showing appreciation for the city, the song states, "thank you for hair metal and the '84 Olympics."
Jilly Cooper's novel Riders has a storyline set at the show jumping event in the 1984 LA Olympics.
The games were covered by the following broadcasters: