The U.S.-led boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games has devalued the worth of 1980 gold medals without producing the political disaster for the Soviet hosts that the Carter administration had hoped for.
The magnetism of the international Olympic spectacle -- even a deeply flawed Olympics -- tended to obscure, at least temporarily, the high moral arguments heard when the boycott was organized, according to a survey of the world press conducted by Washington Post correspondents.
For the participating 81 nations, including virtually all the European allies of the United States, the absence of major sporting powers also provided opportunities for medal-winning and moments of glory.
In contrast to blanket press coverage, several West European countries sharply curtailed television coverage, a move apparently reflecting official embarrassment over their failure to join the boycott.
British commentators expressed enthusiasm over British athletes who "have done us proud" and only in sports such as judo, a marginal sport in Britain, acknowledged the effect of the boycott on the competition. The French, apart from polemics over political aspects of the Olympics, also emphasized that the French medals were not "chocolate candy medals wrapped in tin foil."
African nations focused media attention on their athletes as did the participating Latin American and Asian countries.
But even in countries not participating at Moscow there was a considerable interest in the Games.In West Germany, whose television sharply scaled down coverage plans after Bonn joined the boycott, thousands flocked to watch the Games on East German television.
It was a world turned upside down along the Iron Curtain, since normally East Germans regularly tune in to West German television. The East Germans seized the opportunity to point out that "the citizens of West Germany do not have free access to information."
While the invasion of Afghanistan was by and large ignored in the media, the Soviets have been criticized not so much for their exceptionally strict security measures but for the occasional brutality of some Soviet police in enforcing them.
Although the survey suggests a public perception of the flaws, it also indicates that the 1980 Olympics will be generally recorded as authentic. Politically, they seemed to have ended in a standoff.