By Nick Butler

A special medal and certificate was handed to the athletes who missed out on competing at Los Angeles 1984 ©Czech Olympic CommitteeVeteran athletes denied the opportunity to compete at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games have received an apology from the Czech Olympic Committee. 

Czechoslovakia was one of 14 Eastern Bloc nations and allies of the Soviet Union to boycott the 1984 Games, a response to the Western absence at Moscow 1980 four years earlier.

With the Czech Olympic Committee only being set up in 1993 following the Soviet break up and subsequent dissolving of Czechoslakia into two new countries of Slovakia and Czech Republic, it seems surprising they have accepted any responsibility.

But, at a gathering in Prague to mark the 30th anniversary of Los Angeles 1984, attended by athletes who could potentially have competed, an apology was issued, particularly to those present who had no other opportunity to compete at an Olympics.

The former athletes were also presented with a certificate and a medal. 

Former Czechoslovakian athletes attending the ceremony in Prague ©Czech Olympic CommitteeFormer Czechoslovakian athletes attending the ceremony in Prague
©Czech Olympic Committee

"Fair play is the fundamental message of the Olympic ideals," said Czech Olympic Committee President Jiří Kejval.

"We must be able to come to terms with what happened in the past.

"We are well into the second decade of the 21st century, and with the passing of time events that until recently still aroused significant emotion now increasingly become just historical facts.

"Today we can, unclouded by feelings of bad will, assess what went on in our country during the second half of the 20th century; without emotion, but with fairness in mind.

"We must find the courage to say out loud what was right, what was wrong and what was downright deceitful."

Like most Soviet bloc members, Czechoslovakia did not compete at Los Angeles 1984 ©Getty ImagesLike most Soviet bloc members, Czechoslovakia did not compete at Los Angeles 1984
©Getty Images

The Czech Olympic Committee has also partnered with the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes to create a study called "Sport and Totality".

This maps out Czechoslovakian sport between 1938 and 1989, during which sport was strongly influenced by totalitarian regimes.

Czechoslaviakia competed at 15 Summer Olympics between Antwerp 1920 and Barcelona 1992, winning a combined total of 143 medals, of which 49 were gold.

Their best finish on the medals table came at Helsinki 1952, when they won seven gold medals and finished in sixth position. 

It is thought Czechoslovakian athletes could have won as many as 20 medals at Los Angeles 1984, with discus thrower Zdeňka Šilhavá among those likely to have figured highly after she set a world record mark of 74.56 metres shortly after the Games.

Šilhavá did compete at the Seoul 1988 Games, where she finished in sixth place with a best throw of 67.84m, before placing 11th in the shot put.

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