LIKE LAST SATURDAY'S snowfall, the Winter Olympiad has faded hastily from mind, giving way to the concerns of newer seasons -- including the boycott of the Summer Games scheduled in Moscow. What the American athletes of summer are realizing ever so painfully has only begun to sink in elsewhere: that they are being denied any chances to compete for Olympic gold medals. But their hard training for world recognition doesn't have to be wasted. There can -- and should -- be summer alternatives. That calls for serious planning now.
The precise number of natons that definitely will join the boycott of Moscow isn't clear. Like the see-no-evil members of the International and U.S. Olympic committess, many countries are hoping that somehow the whole mess will just blow away if they wait long enough. Then, goes the wishful thinking, the whole world could regroup to pack its bags for Moscow -- never mind the unpleasantness in Afghanistan. But the organization of some alternative worldwide summer-game spectacular should not await all this indecision.
Besides, it shouldn't have to matter: the alternative games should be open to athletes of all countries, regardless of whether they compete in Moscow. Rather than waiting for an unlikely cue from the Olympics organizers, all countries with any interest in participating in an alternative extravaganze should designate organizers who can decide on a host country -- or countries, previous Olympic sites and other gathering places for world wide competitions do exist and, once they are chosen, work could begin on accommodations for athletes and spectators and arrangements for worldwide television coverage.
The results may not rival the pageantry, scale and spendor of Olympic Games that are planned years in advance. But that is all the more reason to get going right away if any of the talk about trying to compensate the athlete -- victims of international politics is serious.