Image courtesy of U.S. House of Representatives Photography Office
On the West Front Steps of the U.S. Capitol, the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team received Congressional Gold Medals.
On this date, President James Earl “Jimmy” Carter presented more than 450 U.S. Olympic athletes with Congressional Gold Medals
on the Capitol steps. To protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. Olympic team boycotted the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, forcing athletes to forfeit the opportunity to compete for a medal in the international event. On June 4, 1980, Representative Frank Annunzio
of New Jersey introduced H.R. 7482 authorizing the President to award each member of the U.S. team gold-plated medals on behalf of Congress. Because of the high volume of medals needed, Congress authorized the U.S. Mint to forge gold-plated medals in lieu of standard solid gold medals. At the House hearing held by the Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Representative Thomas B. Evans
of Delaware declared, “The 1980 summer Olympics will best be remembered not by who competed, but rather by who did not. The congressional gold medal will serve to remind us and future generations as well that we as a nation will never forsake our principals of freedom, not even for the cherished Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medals.” By a vote of 375 to 28 (30 not voting), the House passed the bill on July 1, 1980, and it was signed into law on July 7, 1980.