Moscow 1980: going to the games

Britain has competed at every modern Olympics, but that record came close to ending at the 1980 Moscow Games, as Kevin Jefferys explains

Sebastian Coe, a track and field athlete, winning the 1,500 metres gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. (Bettmann via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the August 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine 

The run-up to London 2012 has been marked by high-level political endorsement and massive public investment. Britain has a tradition of strong support for the Olympic movement, but one moment stands out as a major exception. Just over 30 years ago – for the only time since the revival of the modern Games in 1896 – the government of the day did its best to prevent British athletes from taking part in the Olympics. After a bruising encounter, occupying a prominent place in public debate for several months, a British team went to the 1980 Moscow Games having inflicted a rare bloody nose on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

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