Humanities › History & Culture History of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles Share Flipboard Email Print Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images History & Culture The 20th Century Fads & Fashions People & Events Early 20th Century The 20s The 30s The 40s The 50s The 60s The 80s The 90s American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History Women's History View More By Jennifer Rosenberg History Expert B.A., History, University of California at Davis Jennifer Rosenberg is a historian and writer who specializes in 20th-century history. our editorial process Jennifer Rosenberg Updated November 18, 2019 The Soviets, in retaliation for the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, boycotted the 1984 Olympics. Along with the Soviet Union, 13 other countries boycotted these Games. Despite the boycott, there was a lighthearted and happy feeling at the 1984 Olympic Games (XXIII Olympiad), which were held between July 28 and August 12, 1984. Official Who Opened the Games: President Ronald ReaganPerson Who Lit the Olympic Flame: Rafer JohnsonNumber of Athletes: 6,829 (1,566 women, 5,263 men)Number of Countries: 140Number of Events: 221 China Is Back The 1984 Olympic Games saw China participate, which was the first time since 1952. Using Old Facilities Rather than build everything from scratch, Los Angeles used many of its existing buildings to hold the 1984 Olympics. Initially criticized for this decision, it ultimately became a model for future Games. First Corporate Sponsors After the serious economic problems caused by the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, the 1984 Olympic Games saw, for the first time ever, corporate sponsors for the Games. In this first year, the Games had 43 companies that were licensed to sell "official" Olympic products. Allowing corporate sponsors caused the 1984 Olympic Games to be the first Games to turn a profit ($225 million) since 1932. Arriving by Jetpack During the Opening Ceremonies, a man named Bill Suitor wore a yellow jumpsuit, white helmet, and a Bell Aerosystems jetpack and flew through the air, landing safely on the field. It was an Opening Ceremony to remember. Mary Lou Retton The U.S. became enthralled with the short (4' 9"), exuberant Mary Lou Retton in her attempt to win gold in gymnastics, a sport that had long been dominated by the Soviet Union. When Retton received perfect scores in her final two events, she became the first American woman to win an individual gold medal in gymnastics. John Williams' Olympic Fanfare and Theme John Williams, the famous composer for Star Wars and Jaws, also wrote a theme song for the Olympics. Williams conducted his now-famous "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" himself the first time it was played at the 1984 Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Carl Lewis Ties Jesse Owens At the 1936 Olympics, U.S. track star Jesse Owens won four gold medals; the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter, the long jump, and the 400-meter relay. Nearly five decades later, U.S. athlete Carl Lewis also won four gold medals, in the very same events as Jesse Owens. An Unforgettable Finish The 1984 Olympics saw the first time that women were allowed to run in a marathon. During the race, Gabriela Anderson-Schiess from Switzerland missed the last water stop and in the heat of Los Angeles began to suffer from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Determined to finish the race, Anderson staggered the last 400 meters to the finish line, looking like she wasn't going to make it. With a serious determination, she made it, finishing 37th out of 44 runners.