Sarah Hirshland has said the US team for Moscow 1980 deserved better ©Getty Images

United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) chief executive Sarah Hirshland has claimed the Moscow 1980 boycott had "no impact" on global politics and said athletes deserved better.

Hirshland made the comments in a message to members of the 1980 US Olympic team, who missed out on competing in Russia as a result of the boycott instigated by US President Jimmy Carter.

Her message came prior to the 40th anniversary of the Opening Ceremony of the Games, which fell yesterday.

The boycott was the culmination of a bitter political campaign which began after Soviet troops entered Afghanistan in the final days of 1979.

Other nations that supported the boycott included Canada, Japan and West Germany.

Hirshland confirmed the US team would be honoured as part of an online archive and said there would be a permanent tribute at the US Olympic and Paralympic Museum.

"It's abundantly clear in hindsight that the decision to not send a team to Moscow had no impact on the global politics of the era and instead only harmed you – American athletes who had dedicated themselves to excellence and the chance to represent the United States," Hirshland wrote.

"We can clearly state you deserved better.

"You deserved the support of an inspired nation, to be celebrated for representing our country with pride and excellence.

"This weekend, we will be honouring the 1980 team on our Team USA social platforms – and we will carry your legacy forward through a newly launched online archive at, and permanent tribute as part of the new US Olympic and Paralympic Museum.

"Additionally, and importantly, we will honour you and the role of sport as mechanisms of peace and cooperation by working to ensure that history informs both the present and the future.

"I've heard from so many of you personally, and also read the words you have shared about your experience.

"I know how hurtful the loss of opportunity was in 1980 and that disappointment has remained over the 40 years since.

"It would have been easy to retreat from sport, but this group – this team and the special bond it possesses – is celebrated for doing the exact opposite.

"The 1980 US Olympic team represents leadership in our Olympic and Paralympic Movements in the form of coaches, mentors, administrators, historians and activists – and your contributions continue to make our great community stronger."

The message is the second sent by Hirshland to members of the 1980 team this year, with the USOPC chief executive also expressing support in April.

The April message coincided with the 40th anniversary of the formal vote which decided against sending a team to Moscow.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has also spoken regarding the 1980 boycott.

Bach branded the boycott, which denied him the chance of a second Olympic gold, as being "completely unsuccessful".

The West German Government forced the country's Olympic team to boycott the Games in protest over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

It meant the fencer could not add to the gold medal he won in the team foil at Montreal 1976.

Bach, speaking ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Opening of the Games, said: "Such sporting boycotts do not have any political effect whatsoever.”

He told the IOC Session on Friday (July 17) that the problem of political interference had returned, with some calling for a boycott of China at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in light of the alleged treatment of Uyghur Muslims and Hong Kong's new security law.