Games of the XXIII Olympiad
Los Angeles was the only bidder for the 1984 Olympic Games and for the first time the Games were run in entrepreneurial fashion, producing a profit of $223 million US. These were the first Games since 1896 to be staged without government funding, relying instead on existing facilities and corporate sponsors. Criticized at the time, this model was followed by future Olympic organizing committees.
Following the American-led boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, it wasn’t too surprising when the Soviet Union organized a boycott of these Games. Viewed by many as a retaliatory move, Soviet officials cited concerns about the safety of their athletes in an anti-communist environment and were joined by 13 other nations in the boycott. Nevertheless, a record 140 countries competed, including the People’s Republic of China for the first time since 1952.
Canada fielded its largest ever Olympic team, 273 men and 163 women, second in size only to the United States. The Canadian team won an unprecedented 44 medals, led by the swimmers who captured 10. Alex Baumann set two world records in winning gold in both the 200m and 400m individual medleys. Victor Davis won three medals, highlighted by 200m breaststroke gold in world record time. Anne Ottenbrite also earned three medals, including her own 200m breaststroke gold.
There was more success on the water, as Canada won six medals in each of canoe/kayak sprint and rowing to go with three medals in sailing as well as an historic gold medal in diving from Sylvie Bernier. The paddlers were led by gold medals from Larry Cain and the duo of Alwyn Morris and Hugh Fisher while the men’s eight crew rowed its way to gold.
There was another push forward for women’s sports with the debuts of rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming. Canada reached the podium in both, with Lori Fung winning the first ever Olympic rhythmic gymnastics gold to go with a pair of silver medals for the synchro swimmers. Women were also finally able to compete in the marathon, 56 years after doctors had declared that women who ran 800 metres would “become old too soon”.
Canada’s first gold of the Games came from Linda Thom, who became the first female Canadian shooter to win an Olympic medal.
Olympic Oath (athletes): Edwin Moses (athletics)
Olympic Oath (officials): Sharon Weber (artistic gymnastics)
Olympic Oath (coaches): None
Lighting Olympic Cauldron: Rafer Johnson
Official Opening: President Ronald Reagan