Host City: Moskva, Soviet Union
Venue(s): Indoor Stadium, Olympiysky Sports Complex, Moskva; Sports Palace, CSKA Sports Complex, Moskva
Date Started: July 20, 1980
Date Finished: July 30, 1980
Format: Round-robin pools; semi-final round-robin pools; semi-finals and finals.
With the Olympics in Moscow, and the United States’ international superiority closing every year, the Soviet Union looked to finally win a non-controversial Olympic basketball gold medal. But US politics did not give them the satisfaction of beating a USA basketball team. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, and US President Jimmy Carter announced in late January that he would support a boycott of the Moscow Olympics. This eventually occurred and the United States did not compete at the 1980 Olympic Games. Without the United States it was thought that the USSR would win easily, especially on their home turf. The Soviet coach loudly boasted that they would have won even if the Americans had competed and that the American withdrawal was because they were afraid of playing the Soviet team.
But in the semi-final pool, the Soviet Union lost twice – to Yugoslavia and Italy, and only finished 3rd in the pool. They played Spain for the bronze medal and won easily. Yugoslavia defeated Italy, 86-77, for their first Olympic basketball gold medal. American basketball coach Dave Gavitt sent the Soviet coach, Aleksandr Gomelsky, a telegram congratulating him on their bronze medal.