NO ONE can say who will win the 100-meter dash or the pole vault in the impaired Moscow Olympics, but there can be little doubt that in the security competition the KGB and the other Soviet police agencies will run away with the gold. With the intensity of training and discipline associated with Olympic athletes, the authorities have been preparing a sweep of their own. Their purpose is not merely to ensure the orderly running of the Games and to prevent incidents like the one that defiled the Munich Olympics -- the Soviet government virtually monopolizes domestic violence and, although it freely sponsors terror abroad, it is unlikely to unleash, say, Palestinian terrorists on its own soil. Rather, the purpose of Soviet police preparation is to make sure that, politically, nothing goes wrong.
Here is the problem, from the Kremlin's viewpoint: to play host to the Olympics and to receive the attendant foreign visitors and world television exposure is a high privilege carrying a pleasing and useful measure of international respectability. These benefits are all the more appreciated since major nations and major athletes are boycotting to protest Moscow's aggression in Afghanistan. But with the privilege comes the burden of admitting still-considerable numbers of foreigners, sports fans and jornalists alike, who will rub up against the normally isolated Soviet public and provide the means by which Soviet citizens who are so inclined, and perhaps even some foreigners, will make unapproved political statements. So it is that the Soviet police have been removing would-be troublemakers from Moscow and fencing the city off, warning the public against normal friendly contacts with visitors ("ideological subversion"), flooding Moscow with tens of thousands of extra cops and otherwise doubling the regime's already massively heavy guard on the Soviet people.
What self-respecting Soviet citizens think about their government's fresh vote of on-confidence in them is hard to say. It is plain, however, that the Soviet police are dishonoring the ideals of fellowship and dignity for which the Olympics are supposedly held. In place of friendship and openness, the Kremlin offers suspicion and surveillance. In place of the unversalism of sport, it enforces the particularity of its own police. At an event meant to bring all kinds of people together, the Kremlin grimly insists they be held apart. Those with a lingering regret that American athletes are not going to Moscow can contemplate what the KGB is making of a sports festival, and set their regret aside.