Olympics

Athletes who missed 1980 Olympics due to boycott will be invited to 2020 Games

Kyodo

Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita said Wednesday the JOC is planning to invite athletes who missed out on the 1980 Moscow Olympics, due to Japan’s boycott, to next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Speaking at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Yamashita revealed the JOC has been collaborating with the games organizers in a bid to invite the former athletes to Olympic events as well as the delegation’s inauguration ceremony.

According to the Japan Sports Society, about 180 Japanese athletes were selected to compete in Moscow before the JOC decided to join the U.S.-led boycott in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

A former judoka, Yamashita missed the Moscow Games before winning gold at the 1984 Olympics. He said it is “extremely difficult” for the sports world to distance itself from politics.

“It is important to communicate the value of sports to the country and its people so they will understand it,” he said. “The sports world (back then) did not have the power to do that.”

There have been proposals to involve the former athletes in the 2020 Games, including running in the Olympic torch relay and featuring in the opening ceremony.

The JOC will also host a gathering for the athletes in December.