The Olympics in adversity: How past Games have been affected by world events, from wars to boycotts *H&H Plus*

With the 2020 Games postponed a year by the coronavirus pandemic, Pippa Roome looks back on other Olympics that have been affected by world events, from wars and boycotts to terrorism

The Tokyo Olympics, pushed back a year by Covid-19, is the first to be postponed in the history of the modern Games, but several other Olympics have been affected by wider world events.

Forty years ago, some 50 nations followed the US lead to boycott the Moscow Games in protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The equestrian events drew riders from just 11 countries and “alternative Olympics” in all three disciplines had a much stronger field than the real Games.

Italy’s Federico Roman took the individual eventing gold and team silver in Moscow. “There were fewer competitors than normal, but it was tough psychologically,” says Federico, who was also ninth at the fully attended 1976 Games. “For the last month and a half before the Games, we needed to prepare ourselves and our horses for competition, but we were surrounded by the political problem.