This study examines the role of changing Cold War politics between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. Rising Cold War tensions following the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had both nations searching for low-risk political platforms to contest one another without the risk of military retaliation. The hosting of the Summer Olympics of 1980 and 1984 in Moscow and Los Angeles provided that platform. This study argues that the United States used the 1980 Olympic boycott as a symbolic shift away from détente politics and both Olympics were used to display the successes of each nation's economic system. Upon conclusion of the 1984 Olympics the United States had established a more aggressive foreign policy towards the Soviet Union and had hosted an economically successful Olympics when the Soviet Union had not. This study concludes that the 1980 Olympic boycott was successfully used by the United States as a political reprimand to the Soviet Union that its current foreign policy was unacceptable. After the 1980 boycott, the United States utilized the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics to demonstrate how a capitalist society could produce an economically successful Olympics when the Soviet Union had failed to in 1980. The Soviet Union attempted a boycott of its own but it paled in comparison to the 1980, U.S. led boycott. The 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympics became less about sport and more about the politics of the time. This study provides an example of how sport and politics need not be separated in historical discourse and can provide insight into larger political themes.