Olympic Boycott

Pravda Editorial, The Price of Ambition. March 18, 1980

 

Original Source: Pravda, 18 March 1980, p. 5.

Moscow is awaiting the Olympians. Preparatory work is nearing completion. These are busy days for the Soviet Organizing Committee for the 1980 Olympics: Every day it receives from all over the world reports about the training of teams and applications for participation in the Summer Olympic Games. Everything is now ready at the sports facilities and in the cities that 123 days from now will welcome participants in and visitors to the 1990 Olympics. Newspapers, television and radio sports commentators from many countries are preparing to cover the Games.

The International Olympic Committee unanimously chose Moscow as the site for the Summer Olympics in 1974. In accordance with that decision, representatives of the IOC and the Soviet Olympic Committee assumed a number of obligations. Recently an IOC session reaffirmed the decision to hold the Olympic Games in Moscow. And they will take place on schedule, in spite of the scheming of enemies of the Olympic movement.

Who are these enemies? Not the athletes, of course. Not the national Olympic committees of the various countries, certainly. Certain politicians have brazenly interfered in the international athletic movement, their aim being to wreck the Moscow Olympics to please the personal ambitions of US President Carter. To this end, an “anti-Olympic council” has been set up at the White House (and this in “free” America!). With cynical disregard for the Olympic Charter and the traditions of the Olympic movement, Washington politicians are trying to impose the decision to boycott the 1980 Olympics, dictated by the short-term plans of Carter election headquarters, on other countries at the governmental level and then make the national Olympic committees submit to this decision.

Washington does not hide the fact that the campaign aimed at wrecking the Olympics is being pursued for strictly political ends. What Carter and his “team” need is not a coming together of individuals and peoples, which the Olympic movement promotes, but division, disunity and tension. They do not even conceal the fact that what the present US administration would like most of all would be a conflict that would make Americans rally around the current President and would distract them from the internal problems rending the US.

It was not today, or even yesterday, that Carter first called for a boycott of the 1980 Olympics. He set his sights on this target back in 1978. Suffice it to recall that during the trial of the American spy Shcharanskii Washing-ton threatened to “wreck the Moscow Olympics.” A year later, during the provocative furor Carter raised over the “Soviet presence” in Cuba, he again threatened to wreck the Moscow Olympics. But now, by whipping up a cold war atmosphere, the White House has moved from threats to action.

Messengers from the Washington opponents of the Olympic movement are scurrying around the world bearing directives, each more truculent than the one preceding it, but all with the same basic aim-to cloud the sports festival of the world’s young people. Whole countries, governments and individual athletes are being subjected to crude pressure and blackmail. Wholesale threats are being made that passports for travel to the USSR will not be issued, leaves will be canceled for those with jobs, and Olympic team members and coaches will not be allowed to go abroad. That’s human rights and liberties for you! That’s what the US administration’s profuse talk about civil rights is really worth!

The US administration has still another trick up its sleeve. Washington recently announced that the White House is looking for a site to hold so-called “parallel games.” The US President’s Counsel, L. Cutler, to whom the White House has given the special assignment of “torpedoer” of the Olympic movement, is now pushing this idea to journalists, claiming that “everything is ready for the holding of equivalent games” in which athletes who are not going to Moscow could take part.

All athletes, tourists and officials who were in Lake Placid saw for themselves the organizational “capabilities” of those who are trying to make political capital out of sports. Even the American press makes no bones about the fact that Lake Placid was a complete failure from an organizational standpoint. It must be said forthrightly that Cutler is deliberately misleading athletes in Western countries when he tries to convince them that the Carter Administration’s undertaking can in some way be an alternative to their participation in the Moscow Games.

American athletes, among others, have spoken out on this subject. “I am 100% against staying out of the Games,” was California shot-putter Al Feuerbach’s comment on President Carter’s appeal to boycott the Moscow Olympics. As we know, Lake Placid Olympic champion E. Heiden gave a negative answer to President Carter’s direct question as to whether he supported the idea of boycotting the 1980 Olympics. The same position has been taken by the majority of American athletes, who are justly indignant over Carter’s attempts to keep them from taking part in the 1980 Olympics, after they have been training for the Games for four years.

In their dirty game, official spokesmen for the White House, and L. Cutler in particular, do not shrink from outright lies: They are trying to persuade journalists that either the IOC or the USSR Organizing Committee will give up on the 1980 Olympics as soon as the US is able to talk some of its allies into supporting a boycott by stressing the notorious “Atlantic solidarity.”

In our time, the Olympic movement, which was revived in 1894 after the International Olympic Committee was created at the Paris congress, embraces more than 140 countries, dozens of international sports organizations and millions of athletes of all skin colors and of a wide variety of political and religious beliefs. Since the first modern Olympics, held in Athens in 1896, the Olympic flame has been lit regularly every four years. Only the world wars extinguished it-no Games were held in 1916, 1940 or 1944.

From the very start of the rebirth of the Olympic movement, its organizers have sought to prevent the Games from being used by individuals, organizations or governments for personal, political or commercial gain. Recently IOC representatives again appealed to the US not to use athletes to solve its political problems.

The Soviet public fully supports this appeal. If sports is made the servant of politics, this will mean a death sentence for the Olympic Games and for international sports in general. If Soviet people had followed the crippling logic that the American administration is trying to establish in sports, then our athletes surely ought to have ignored the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

The hegemonistic ideology and claims to global domination of certain circles in the US show how far they are from understanding reality. The imperial posture that the American administration has now taken in questions of international sports is simply ridiculous. No wonder

that Kane, the President of the US Olympic Committee, in expressing regret over the Carter Administration’s announcement that its position on the question of participation in the Moscow Olympics was “irrevocable,” made the sarcastic comment: “Nothing is irrevocable but stupidity and death.”

The attempts to mix sports not simply with politics but with the American ruling circles’ current policy of undermining detente and cooperation in international affairs is, naturally enough, arousing indignation among the world public. The clear intention is to carry over the policy of blocs into sports. However, Washington’s pressure is leading to a result opposite from the one the White House intended it is strengthening the resolve of the sports community the world over to uphold the independence of the Olympic movement and its humane ideas.

Source: Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXXII, No. 11 (1980).

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