TIME IS RUNNING out on the United States Olympic Committee. At a meeting in Colorado Springs this coming weekend, its House of Delegates must decide what the committee is going to do about the Moscow Olympics. It can direct the committee to accept the inevitable -- an American boycott of the Games -- or it can tell the committee to continue the foot-dragging of President Carter, Congress and the publicly announced policy of the government.
It should be an easy choice. The case against American participation in Moscow, set out on the opposite page today by Robert G. Kaiser, is overwhelming. Yet, some of the athletes and many of those who organize athletic competition seem unable to accept it. Dazzled by the mythology of the Olympics, they cling to the Fantasy that something will happen to change the government's policy.
This is not a matter of patriotism or lack of it. It is a matter of recognizing the reality that international sports, as presented in the Olympics, has become a part of international politics. The distinction between the two, glorified in the fine words of the International Olympic Committee and the law sanctioning the USOC, has existed only in the Western imagination, if it ever existed at all.
This fact has been laid bare by the eagerness of the Soviet Union to use the Olympics for its own political purposes and the refusal of the president and Congress to play once troops crossed the Afghan border. But even before the invasion of afghanistan, the Olympic Games had become too big, too ornate, too nationalistic and, yes, too political to survive much longer. The signs were already there -- in the deaths of the Israeli athletes at Munich, the financial debts of Montreal, the rejection of the Taiwanese at Lake Placid and the continuing fraudulent distinction between "amateur" and "professional" competitors.
The sad part is that an opportunity to change the tone (and the politics) of international sports is being lost. There was a chance three months ago to create a new kind of games, based on the essentials of competition, open to all and dedicated to athletic, not nationalistic, superiority. That chance has ben slipping away -- it may already be gone -- because of the belief within American sports circles that the Olympic Games, as they are now conducted, are sacred. But it is that alternative that the USOC and its House of Delegates should be considering in Colorado Springs -- as distinct from plowing ahead with its fruitless discussion of whether it will do what it has to do: tell the IOC that the Americans will not be in Moscow next summer.