How the Iron Curtain was lifted in the world. Well-known member of the Olympic movement Vitaly Smirnov was on the air at the Gorchakov Fund

23 July 2020

On July 23, the Gorchakov Find hosted live show “The Moscow Olympics-1980. How the Iron Curtain was lifted in the world” with the participation of honorary member of the International Olympic Committee Vitaly Smirnov.

He shared his memories about the magnificent celebration of sport, which took place in our capital exactly forty years ago. According to the speaker, one of the decisive factors for choosing the place of the Olymics-80 were achievements of Soviet athletes. At the first Games for the USSR team in Helsinki (1952), the Soviet team was able to get the same number of points as the US team. Since then, our team lost only twice: in 1964 and 1968. In all the following Olympic Games, the Soviet athletes were steadily taking the first places.

The Soviet sport was respected in the world for a reason and that is why it was logical to organize the Games in our country. The first application was submitted in 1968 for the Games in 1976. Among three competitors (Los-Angeles, Montreal and Moscow), the Canadian city was selected, which caused a strong and painful reaction at the Soviet athletic institutions and the upper echelons of power.

However, Moscow did not give up. In 1974, a new application was filed and the USSR became the first socialist country to host the Games.

When preparing for the Olympics, they focused on all elements of the image of our country. There was a strong desire to show our tourist potential, demonstrate achievements of the USSR after World War II, and give people an opportunity to watch competitions and communicate with guests from all over the world. The goal set for Moscow and the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games turned out to be difficult. They were able to double around 40 000 available hotel rooms, build the second terminal of the Sheremetyevo airport and renovate the Luzhniki Stadium. The most noticeable changes took place in the television area: a powerful television center was constructed. The Olympics were broadcast on 21 channels. Some of the competitions, besides Moscow, took place in Tallinn, Leningrad, Kiev, and Minsk.

Shortly before the Olympics, the leaders of the USSR had to take a politically strong decision to bring military forces to Afghanistan. That resulted in a boycott of the Games by the West. However, our country overcame all difficulties with dignity, summarized Vitaly Smirnov.