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Los Angeles 1984: an influential legacy

1984 / International Olympic Committee (IOC) / United Archives - All rights reserved | The medallists of the first women’s Olympic marathon event; Grete Waitz-Andersen (NOR) 2nd, Joan Benoit (USA) 1st and Rosa Mota (POR) 3rd.
06 Nov 2019
Los Angeles 1984 Legacy
A new financial model which became a template for future editions of the Olympic Games and a turning point for women in sport are two of the key legacies of Los Angeles 1984 - an edition which inspired a cultural step-change for the Olympic Games that can still be felt decades later.

Financial model

Effective planning, smart use of resources and making the most of a dynamic sponsorship market to increase revenues injected new life into the Olympic Games and provided a financial blueprint for future organising committees. A surplus of USD 233 million was generated by the Los Angeles Olympic Organising Committee, 40 per cent of which was later invested to create the LA84 Foundation, which supports youth sport programmes and public education in the city, and advocates for the important role sports participation plays in positive youth development. The remaining 60 per cent was given to the United States Olympic Committee to be used for sports development in the country.

The sponsorship programme developed by the Los Angeles 1984 Organising Committee was a hallmark of the Games and represented a major revenue stream. By guaranteeing product and service exclusivity in specific categories, the Committee was able to leverage larger sums. In all, 34 companies made financial and value-in-kind contributions in exchange for exclusive sponsorship agreements that became a model example for the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s commercial initiative known as The Olympic Partner (TOP) programme. This resulted in a higher profile and a more viable financial model for the Olympic Movement.

Women in Sport

Los Angeles 1984 was a landmark for female participation. The Olympic Games changed the way women are perceived in sport, with the realisation that they can achieve the same levels of excellence as men.

Two exclusively female disciplines - synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics - made their Olympic debuts in Los Angeles 1984, while women competed for the first time in the 3,000m and 400m hurdles, shooting and road cycling.

Furthermore, the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon was a breakthrough moment for female distance running, serving as a springboard to elevate the sport – especially in the United States. It led to the development of a new industry in women’s running apparel and female-only running events.

The increased emphasis on women’s participation led to a record number of female athletes taking part in the 1984 Olympic Summer Games, with 23 per cent of the total participants being female.


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