Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California
Date Started: August 1, 1984
Date Finished: August 10, 1984
Format: Round-robin pools advanced teams to the round-robin final pool.
The Soviet-led boycott greatly affected the 1984 water polo tournament. Since the early 1950s the four dominant water polo nations had been Hungary, Yugoslavia, Italy, and the Soviet Union, but Hungary, which had won six of the last 11 gold medals, was not in Los Angeles, nor was the USSR. The 1982 World Championships showed how this lessened the competition, won by the Soviets with Hungary second. That had also been the case at the 1983 European Championships.
In their absence, Yugoslavia assumed the favorites role, with West Germany, winner of the 1981 European title and third at the 1982 Worlds, also considered strong. Spain had won bronze at the 1983 Europeans and was led by the world’s best player, Manuel Estiarte, and was expected to challenge for a medal, but the United States also had improved their team, and was also in the medal race.
The six final round teams were Yugoslavia and the Netherlands (Group A), the United States and Spain (Group B), and West Germany and Australia (Group C). In the medal pool, Yugoslavia and the United States won their first three games and faced each other in a match to determine the first two places. The United States was off to a 5-2 lead late in the third quarter, but they could not score again, and Yugoslavia came back to tie the match, 5-5, giving them the gold medal on goal differential. Spain took the bronze with West Germany back in fourth place.