Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Russia part 11 - Moscow Olympic Games, Opening Ceremony in 1980

Montreal, August 1, 1976. The closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. The Olympic flame has gone out. "Good-bye, Montreal! Till we meet in Moscow!", sports announcers kept saying. Yes, it is Moscow that will be the site of the 22nd Summer Olympic Games.

The first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896, were the result of efforts by Pierre de Coubertin, a French educator and public figure. After their successful completion, the capital of Greece applied to the International Olympic-Committee (IOC) with a request that Athens be granted the status of Eternal Olympic City. However, Pierre de Coubertin was convinced that the Olympic Games should be truly international in nature, and therefore they should be held in different coun­tries.

Since that time only sixteen cities have been privileged to host the Olympic Games, though the number of bidders for the honor has been much greater. The Soviet people have also been anxious to host the Games. Soviet athletes enjoy high standing and considerable respect in the sporting world. The largest stadiums of Moscow and other Soviet cities have been the site of many world and European championships, including the World University Games of 1973. The Soviet people were quite sure that they, too, could succesfully host the Olympic Games and organize them as a real festival of health and beauty, of the triumphant ideas of peace and friendship among nations.

In November 1971, V. Promyslov, Chairman of the Moscow Executive Council, sent a message to IOC President in which he wrote: "Taking into account the sincere wish of the residents of Moscow that the capital of our state become the site of the Olympic Games, and being encouraged by a desire to make a worthy contribution to the development of the modern Olympic movement, the Moscow City Council of Working Deputies has the honor to officially invite the 22nd Summer Olympic Games of 1980 to the city of Moscow..."

A year before the site of the next Olympic Games was to be chosen, Lord Killanin, the IOC President, received a message from the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet to the effect that the Soviet government would assist the city of Moscow and the USSR Olympic Committee in every way, if the Soviet capital were chosen at the site of the 1980 Olympic Games.

Alexei Kosygin, Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, had a meeting with Lord Killanin during the World University Games held in Moscow in 1973. In the course of their meeting Alexei Kosygin noted that Moscow was not looking for any economic gain from holding the Olympics. Its organizers in Moscow would do everything in their power to make the Games the biggest sports event the world has seen and a real festival of sport. Furthermore, all the guests coming to the Soviet Union for the Olympics, would have an opportunity to see something of the life of the Soviet people and of the country's accomplishments in various branches of the cultural field.

The Soviet Union invited members of the IOC to come to Moscow to see how physical culture and sport are organised, to take a look at the city's sports facilities and to see for themselves the possibility of staging the Olympics here in 1980. This invitation was accepted and many IOC members visited the Soviet capital Their impressions were favourable in Moscow: "The concern shown by the state for sport", said Masai Kiyokava (Japan), an IOC member, "the great enthusiasm of young people for sport, the wide-scale construction of sports facilities and the high level of physical culture in the USSR, all strongly support the claims of Moscow in the international competition for the honour of staging the next Olympics. The city deserves to be chosen."

IOC members were interested not only in the sports facilities but in the city's cultural life as well. Traditionally, the country which organises the games should also prepare an extensive program of cultural activities for the time of the Olympics.

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