The Atlantic

The Olympics Do Not Matter

With no great-power rivalry, what’s the point?
Source: Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

Editor’s Note: Read all of The Atlantic’s Winter Olympics coverage.

The two greatest moments of the Olympics, the ones that have been passed down through legend and archival footage, involve the Cold War. There was Al Michaels shouting “Do you believe in miracles?” at the 1980 winter games in Lake Placid when the unheralded U.S. hockey team faced—and defeated—the mighty Soviets. There was also the ill-tempered finish to the 1972 basketball final, when the Soviets were awarded gold after a controversial judging decision. As Mike Bantom, who was on the U.S. team, later said: “We didn’t get beat, we got cheated.”

The Cold War’s U.S.-Soviet rivalry

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