Forty years ago this week, a deadline imposed on the Olympic Movement expired.
It had been set by United States President Jimmy Carter who threatened a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics unless Soviet Union forces withdrew from Afghanistan by February 20.
"Our decision is irrevocable, we will not participate," he announced.
Carter had strong backing from Governments in Australia, Canada and Great Britain and even sent Muhammad Ali as a special envoy to persuade other countries to his cause.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Lord Killanin said, "We acknowledge that the Olympic Movement, as well as all international sport, is facing grave dangers.
"We must protect all athletes of the world, and this is why we call upon Governments, public opinion and the mass media to help us to save the Olympic ideals."
In early February, the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) gathered for their General Assembly in Mexico City.
ANOC President, Mexican businessman Mario Vasquez Rana, issued a statement which rejected outside pressures, "whether of a political, religious or economic nature".
He described the relationship between the IOC and ANOC as one of ‘’father and son.”
The hand of the sporting community strengthened aggressive speech by American Secretary of State Cyrus Vance at the IOC session held in Lake Placid before the Winter Olympics and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher adopted the same bullish tone.
"We have concluded a boycott of the Olympics by citizens of the free world would be one of the most effective measures to bring home to the Soviet Government and Russian people, the abhorrence in which their actions in Afghanistan are held," Vance said.
Resistance to the boycott was now growing from athletes, National Olympic Committees (NOC), International Federations and even a Prince.
The athlete lobby included 79 athletes who put their names to an International Athletes Club (IAC) letter to Downing Street deploring the boycott.
"We affirm our right to take part in the Olympic Games in Moscow," the letter read.
"We would now like the right and opportunity of preparing ourselves free of Government pressure.
"We make it clear we do not support Soviet domestic and foreign policies but we are not prepared to preside over the destruction of the Olympic Movement. "
Thatcher replied, "I understand and sympathise with the feelings of athletes who have trained for years with the object of participating.
"But we know that for the Soviet Union sport is a branch of politics.
"It is clear that the Soviet authorities will claim participation in the Olympics as endorsement of their aggression in Afghanistan and their propaganda machine will make use of this."
In April, the sporting world gathered for crisis meetings at Lausanne’s Palace Hotel in mid April.
"I think the future of the entire Olympics will be on the line this week." said an unnamed senior official.
The key meetings included IOC Executive Board members, Moscow 1980 Organising Committee leaders, NOC leaders and the Presidents of the Olympic International Federations.
Among the participants was the President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), Prince Philip.
"I was frankly astounded to hear that he had arrived in view of the attitude of the British Government towards the Games." said IOC President Killanin.
As FEI President, Prince Philip would have expected to attend the Moscow Games as he did at Montreal 1976.
"I see no way I can go." he said.
Asked about his own feelings, he replied, "That’s beside the point isn’t it?"
Thomi Keller, President of the General Association of International Sports Federations read the official statement after the meeting.
‘"The Olympic Federations, being aware of the reasons being advanced by different Governments for putting pressure on National Olympic Committees to boycott the Games, protest energetically against such pressure," he said.
"They declare their belief that the boycotting of a sporting event is an improper way of trying to obtain a political end and that the real victims of any such action are the sportsmen and women."
Then Keller also revealed, "It took quite an effort to get the text approved by everyone.
"A lot of people collaborated and Prince Philip even made the final touches to the draft.
"Sort of polished it up."
Killanin recalled, "At that moment I could feel a movement to the telephones amongst the reporters."
After the initial headlines, Buckingham Palace press spokesmen moved into overdrive.
They insisted that the Prince "used his best efforts to modify the statement on which there was no vote.
"He was present at the discussion but he had no part in any resolution."
Some accused Keller of deliberate ambiguity to make a political point.
Yet in his memoirs, Killanin later insisted that the Prince had supported the opposition to a boycott.
"We lunched at the same table," he said.
"It is clear that in his conversation with other people at the table, some of them formed the impression he was opposed to the Thatcher support of the boycott."
Meanwhile, in the US, 18 amateur athletes, including 1976 long jump gold medallist Arnie Robinson and discus champion Mac Wilkins, filed Federal court proceedings to overturn the boycott, but their attempt was in vain.
West Germany, Japan and Canada also voted not to attend.
There came a boost from Paris.
The French National Olympic Committee voted unanimously to compete in Moscow.
The decision was "on sporting grounds alone".
"We don’t want athletes to be used in politics." French NOC President Claude Collard said.
Many were encouraged by the actions of sports officials in Australia and Great Britain, both ever present at the Summer Games.
British Olympic Association chairman Sir Denis Follows was prominent amongst those who resisted Government pressure and in Australia, IOC member David McKenzie was similarly influential.
The Irish and Dutch voted to go to Moscow by a convincing margin and the Swedes were unanimous.
In May, 18 European National Olympic Committees gathered in Rome and formulated a resolution.
"Their mission is to defend the Olympic music and that it is their duty to permit participation in the Games by their athletes," it read.
"This participation is even more important in a period of tension and international conflicts, expressing as it does, a hope of mutual understanding for future generations."
They insisted "participation cannot be taken in any way to imply acceptance of ideology or political behaviour" and appealed to all countries "to follow their lead".
They resolved to "confine their activities to purely sporting activities" and also announced that they would not participate in the youth camp organised in connection with the Games.
They called upon the IOC to "ensure that in the course of the ceremonies no formal speeches will contain a political content",
Franco Carraro of Italy sounded the alert that "his country’s team might not be permitted to use their national flag".
He wished to be assured that the NOC in question "would not be penalised for using a different flag".
Regulations were eventually altered "to help those NOCs who were unable to use the flag of their own country".
The Finnish member Paavo Honkajuuri had already proposed the substitution of the Olympic flag and the wording of regulations was altered.
The word "delegation" replaced country in by-law 65 which related to anthems and flags.
This opened the way for the use of the Olympic or NOC flag at ceremonial occasions in Moscow.
Although Soviet IOC member Vitali Smirnov "warned of strong reaction from some NOCs if the protocol was changed" he too eventually agreed to the change.
Killanin estimated that 25 NOCs went to Moscow "which would not otherwise have taken part".
When the sport began, Britain's 100 metres breaststroke swimmer Duncan Goodhew was the first to see the Olympic flag raised.
The Soviet press reported his reaction.
"It was a pity that on this red letter day for me, the British flag was not raised," he said.
The most striking medal ceremony came at the Velodrome after Swiss cyclist Robert Dill-Bundi won the individual pursuit ahead of Alain Bondue of France and the Dane Hans-Henrik Oersted.
All three were greeted by the Olympic flag.
IOC President Killanin praised, "Those who showed their complete independence to travel to compete despite many pressures placed on them."
A total of 80 nations did compete in Moscow.
Organising chief Ignati Novikov described officials such as Killanin, Follows and McKenzie as "the true knights of Olympism".
They might just also have been the saviours of the Olympic Games themselves.