There is a huge emphasis on the 1972 summer Olympics being non-political. But, unfortunately, the US vs. USSR events have always been political for the simple reason that its results are a matter of national pride. As such, there are a number of Olympic match-ups between the two superpowers of the 20th century that are still remembered for such reasons.
The 1972 Men’s Basketball final on September 9th is one of those particularly controversial moments. For those who are unfamiliar, the Soviet team won 51 to 50.
However, the 2-pointer that put them on top happened at the very end under disputed circumstances, with the result that the US team protested that they were the ones who should’ve been declared the winner because time had already run out.
A five-person jury awarded the victory to the Soviet team over the US team.
Unfortunately, that settled nothing because it was common speculation that the three pro-Soviet jury members had voted for the Soviet team while the two pro-US jury members had voted for the US team, meaning that everything was decided by politics.
As a result, the US team refused to accept their silver medals as an expression of their belief that the decision was illegitimate. They have never gone back on that decision, and those silver medals are still sitting in a Swiss vault.