President Carter is expected to reveal his decision on an American Boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow when he makes a national television appearance today.
The president will be interviewed on the question-and-answer program "Meet the Press" (NBC, WRC). He is virtually certain to be asked his position on seeking a shift in the site of the Olympics as a reprisal for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and on asking Americans to boycott the games if they are are moved from Moscow.
A White House aide said yesterday that the president would have "a definite position very, very soon," probably before his television appearance today and "almost certainly" before Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tomorrow.
There was widespread speculation that the president would announce an official position similar to the "personal view" expressed by Vance in an interview last week: The U.S. should not participate in the Moscow games unless Soviet troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan before mid-February, a circumstance he considered "unlikely."
The Republican National Committee, ending its winter meeting in Washington, yesterday passed a resolution saying U.S. participation in Moscow "would tend to legitimize what the Soviet government has done," and called on the IOC to remove the games from Moscow. Republican presidential candidates Ronald Reagan, John B. Connally and George Bush all had previously voiced their support for efforts to have the games relocated.
A Democratic candidate, California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., however, said in Boston yesterday that Carter was wrong to suggest the boycott.
Brown, speaking at Logan Internatioal Airport before a New England campaign swing, said he was not convinced a boycott would help the people of Afghanistan or free the American hostages in Iran, and called the suggestion "precipitous."
Vance, presidential counsel Lloyd Cutler and deputy counsel Joseph Onek met Friday at the White House with United States Olympic Committee (USOC) President Robert J. Kane and Executive Director F. Don Miller. The USOC officials requested the meeting to voice their objections to any boycott request by the administration.
A White House statement characterized the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, as "purely for information purposes." There was no indication of a change in the widely publicized personal views of Vance, Vice President Mondale, First Lady Rosalynn Carter and the president himself whose opinion was conveyed through spokesman Jody Powell. All favor an American boycott of the games if the International-Olympic Committee (IOC) cannot be persuaded to relocate them.
White House aides worked throughout the day yesterday developing the president's options on the issue, which include support of a movement to organize an alternative "Free World Games" in which athletes could compete if the IOC does not transfer the Olympics from Moscow. IOC president Lord Killanin has said repeatedly that the games will not be moved or canceled.
Senate Democratic Leader Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.) yesterday joined the growing chorus of voices in both houses of Congress calling for the United States to boycott the Moscow Olympics as a means of punishing Soviet aggression.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to the Soviets' brutal invasion of Afghanistan. The Olympic Games should be moved out of Moscow. If this is not possible, the United States should not participate in the games and we should encourage other nations not to participate," Byrd said.
"It would be wonderful if international sports transcended international politics, as some claim. But we must face the fact that the games would constitute a political propaganda windfall for the Soviets in the wake of their outrageous invasion of Afghanistan," Byrd said.
"I feel for the athletes of this country who have trained long and hard for the opportunity to compete in the Olympics. However, our feelings in this regard must not obscure the ideals and priorities of the free world."
Chairmen Frank Church (D-Idaho) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Clement J. Zablocki (D-Wis.) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee both said Friday that they would give high priority to resolutions calling for relocation or boycott of the Moscow Olympics when Congress reconvenes Tuesday.
The USOC officials who met with administration aides left Washington yesterday, saying they expected to be informed of the president's decision on a possible boycott before it was announced, but not necessarily consulted again before a decision is made.
Miller briefed the USOC staff at the organization's headquarters in Colorado Springs yesterday, then said he would have no further comment until the president announces his position. "We were told we would be informed of his position in advance. He's going on TV Sunday. We're just waiting," said a USOC spokesman.
Kane and Miller told administration aides in Friday's meeting that the president had no authority to order an Olympic boycott because the IOC charter stipulates that national Olympic commitees, not governments, receive invitations to compete in the games and must made decisions about participation without interference from their governments.
The USOC issued a statement saying that if the president requested a withdrawal of American athletes, the USOC would immediately poll prospective members of the team. The statement said its 86-person executive board would then vote on the boycott in accordance with the position of the majority of athletes.
High jumper Dwight Stones and several other world-class ahtletes, including hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah of the University of Maryland, signed a petition Friday calling for the games to be moved from Moscow. Stones' attorney said that the petition would be circulated to other athletes competing in upcoming track and field meets.
In related developments, the head of the Egyptian Sports Council said "there is a 90 percent chance Egypt will boycott" the Moscow games if Soviet troops remain in Afghanistan, and the tiny nations of Djibouti and Qater reportedly have decided to boycott as well.
Djibouti is a small country on the northeast horn of Africa, surrounded on three sides by Soviet-allied Ethiopia. Qatar is a Persian Gulf skeikdom adjacent to Saudi Arabia, the only country that had previously announced its intention to boycott the Moscow games.
However, the president of the influential Supreme Council for Sports in Africa said in a Nigerian television interview that Africa has no plans for a boycott. The council was instrumental in organizing a boycott of the 1976 Montreal Olympics by 29 black African nations because Great Britain was not expelled for having rugby ties with South Africa.
Foreign ministers from 43 Islamic nations will meet in Islamabad, Pakistan, next week, and are expected to address the issue of a possible Olympic Boycott. Their position will be closely watched as a gauge of Third World support for a possible boycott by the United States, Canada and European allies. te who came from Houston in the trade for Billy Paultz.