Did Mitt Romney rescue, as he claims, a Winter Olympiad that was “sullied by scandal” and “on the brink of financial disaster?" Here’s a better question: When are the Olympics not “sullied” and “on the brink"? Throughout history, the Olympics have been laced with scandal and tragedy, often far worse than the Salt Lake’s bidding controversy.
As early as 2008, the government of Georgia was already calling for a boycott of the Games over the involvement of Russia in the battle for South Ossetia.
With four years to opening ceremonies, the British Columbian auditor general found that the Games were on pace to exceed the original estimated price tag by nearly $2 billion.
Health experts feared that the thick gray haze that covers China’s capital would spell respiratory doom for Olympic athletes.
Italian authorities raided the Olympic Village, seeking evidence of doping.
With 100 days to go, the Greeks hadn’t finished the metro station to the stadium and the entire city was a construction zone.
An investigation revealed that Australia’s bid committee had broken the rules with its “extravagant” hospitality, including expensive gifts to delegates without which, the independent query found, Sydney may not have won the Games.
The Japanese spent $26 million in gifts for International Olympic Committee members.
A 40-pound pipe bomb exploded during a concert at Centennial Olympic Park. Two were killed and more than 100 were injured.
Tonya Harding achieved infamy after her ex-husband conspired to attack competitor Nancy Kerrigan during a practice session for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. By Games time, Harding was crying her way through her routine over a broken lace, placing eighth to Kerrigan’s silver.
Los Angeles 1984
The Soviet Union led 14 other nations in a boycott of the Los Angeles Games.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter ordered a boycott of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. More than 60 nations declined to participate in the Games.
Lake Placid 1980
Protests mounted when New York state released plans to turn Olympic housing facilities into a prison after the Games.
Twenty-two African nations boycotted the Games in protest after the IOC refused to ban New Zealand from participating. The Kiwis had previously sent a rugby team to South Africa, breaking the cultural embargo in place as an international stance on apartheid.
Two weeks into the Games, the Black September terrorist group took Israeli athletes and coaches hostage, killing 11. Five hostage takers were killed by German police.
An ego contest between Austrian skier Karl Schranz and IOC president Avery Brundage culminated with Schranz’ disqualification from the Games. Why? A sponsorship faux pas. He wore a shirt with a coffee logo on it while attending a soccer match.
Mexico City 1968
Ten days before the Games, thousands of students and supporters in Mexico City amassed in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City to protest their authoritarian government. Police forces crushed the demonstrators, killing scores and arresting more than 1,300 others.
Seven countries, including China, boycotted the Games for various political reasons.
The IOC revoked Japan’s right to host, gave the Games to Helsinki, then canceled the event altogether due to the Soviet war with Finland. It also canceled the 1944 Games due to World War II.
The Summer Olympics were presided over by Adolf Hitler.