International Olympic Committee President Lord Killanin met today with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in an 11th-hour bid to save the Moscow Olympic Games from a widespread boycott over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Unconfirmed reports here tonight indicated Brezhnev had expressed no objection to a suggestion from Killanin that national flags and anthems be eliminated from games ceremonies as a way of depoliticizing them and stemming the U.S.-led boycott.
Killanin, tireless in his efforts to preserve the 22nd Olympics, refused to shed any light on these reports, saying only that he and Brezhnev "had frank discussions and you can interpret that any way you like." The Irish peer is to fly Thursday to Switzerland for a crucial IOC meeting Friday, and Western sources here said he expects to meet President Carter May 15 in Washington.
The suggestion to do away with national flags and other nationalistic insignias that have marked the modern Games and are highly valued by the image-conscious Soviet hosts was made recently by a meeting of 18 European Olympic groups.
Knowledgeable Western sources said Killanin had not raised this idea with Brezhnev in today's meeting but had mentioned it yesterday to high-ranking officials of the Moscow Olympic Organizing Committee. These officials were reported to have expressed no strong objections to the scheme, although the Soviets in the past have insisted that the traditions of the games not be altered.
However, the decision on ceremonies rests entirely with the IOC and if Killanin can tell the committee the Soviets have given tacit agreement as a move to counter the boycott, his attempts to persuade undecided nations seem likely to be strengthened.
The official Tass News agency tonight merely said Brezhnev and Killanin "exchanged opinions on sports and Olympic movement." Killanin arrived unannounced yesterday with IOC Executive Director Monique Berlioux. He met with Ignati Novikov, president of the Moscow Olympic Organizing Committee, and other Soviet Games officials yesterday. He saw Brezhnev before the Soviet president and party leader departed for Yugoslavia today for the funeral of president Tito. p