Could Donald Trump follow Jimmy Carter’s lead and tell the USOC not to send athletes to compete in the Olympics? The reasoning, though. would be different this time.
The United States has pulled out of just one Olympics. Olympic Games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944 because of wars. South Korea is holding an Olympics in a hot zone next February and if things get hotter will the US participate in a South Korea Olympics or will there be a South Korea Winter Olympics. The ensuing months will answer those questions but the US has played political diplomacy with the Olympics.
In the late 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower sent a hockey and track and field team to the Soviet Union hoping to fight common ground to end the Cold War. The endeavor failed. The US-USSR Cold War continued for decades and for sports, it came to a head in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter banned American athletes from participating in the 1980 Moscow Summer Games. Carter’s action was designed to punish the Soviet Union for invading Afghanistan in December, 1979. The decision came after the American hockey team beat the Soviets in Lake Placid, New York during the 1980 Winter Olympics. On March 21, 1980 Carter ordered the boycott and issued a trade embargo on grain and information technology. Carter also threatened to revoke the passport of any American athlete who went to Moscow and performed under the Olympics flag. In 1984, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. While it seems far-fetched to think Russia would get involved in a presidential election because of sports, never underestimate the power of sports as a political platform for countries.
The next two Olympics are in a hot spot, South Korea and Japan are North Korea’s neighbors.