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Soviet Union and the Olympics

The Soviet Union joined the International Olympic Committee only in 1951. When they emerged the next year at the Helsinki Olympiad, they shocked the world by coming in a close second in the medal count. They then went on to dominate both the summer and winter Games in 1956. After that, Soviet sports officials dreamed of holding the Olympics in Moscow, but they got no traction with a party leadership that disdained sports. That attitude would change when Leonid Brezhnev and his colleagues ousted Nikita Khrushchev in 1964. Thanks to Brezhnev's support, Moscow would go on to host the Olympic Games in 1980. However, the realization of Brezhnev's dream was marred by a boycott lead by the United States in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.