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Athens 2004

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Predictably the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Games, ostensibly for security reasons but in reality as revenge for the humiliation they had suffered four years earlier.

Yet Californians could not have cared less. The absence of the Soviet Union meant all the more medals for Americans, fitting in perfectly with the new mood of confident exuberance in Ronald Reagan's America.

An opening ceremony featuring 85 grand pianos set the tone of unabashed Hollywood schmalz and Carl Lewis proved the perfect leading man, fulfilling his ambition to emulate Jesse Owens's four gold medals in the 100, 200, long jump and 4x100 relay with an almost insolent ease.

Joan Benoit, who had undergone arthroscopic surgery on her right knee 2-1/2 weeks before the Olympic trials, overcame the heat and humidity to win the first women's marathon gold. Ed Moses, who had given a stumbling rendition of the Olympic oath, soared over the barriers to win his second 400 metres hurdles title.

The Games were a triumph for the head of the organising committee Peter Ueberroth, a former travel agent with a permanent tan, who courted big business to make a profit in excess of $200 million in the first private enterprise Games.



**The 1984 Games was awarded to Los Angeles in 1978.

** The 1984 Games was the first to attract widespread sponsorship by private corporations.

** The television rights alone amounted to $287 million in the 1984 Games, of which the maximum came from the ABC network for US rights.

** The 1984 Games attracted one of the largest TV audiences in history. Some 2500 million watched the Games.

** Romania was the only country from the Soviet bloc to participate in the 1984 Games.

** Shooter Xu Haifeng in the 1984 Games won China's it first ever gold medal.

** The attendances in the 1984 Games, was the maximum - nearly 5.7 million spectators watched the Games.

** The soccer final between France and Brazil in the 1984 Games attracted a crowd of over 100,000.

** The 1984 Los Angeles was the first Games to earn a profit - a neat $ 215 million.

** The president of the Los Angles Olympic Committee Peter Ueberroth was born on the same day 2 September 1937, that Baron de Courbertin, the founder of the Olympic movement, died.


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