Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, who was president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the financially successful 1984 summer games, says in a new book that bureaucratic foot-dragging and international one-upsmanship by the United States and Soviet Union resulted in the Soviet boycott.
In excerpts from "Made in America," published in the Oct. 28 edition of U.S. News & World Report, Ueberroth says, "I called the Soviet pullout absurd and reprehensible at a press conference . . . . But I had to suffer my frustration with the federal government in silence."
The excerpts do not explicitly blame one party more than the other but give details of several incidents involving U.S. officials where, the inference is clear, if the United States had acted differently the Soviets might have chosen to participate.
After first reports that the Soviets had decided to boycott the summer Olympics, Ueberroth met with President Reagan, who "readily agreed to draft a letter" to Soviet President Konstantin Chernenko guaranteeing U.S. support of the Olympic charter, Ueberroth said.
"I suggested that the president perhaps ought to invite Chernenko to attend the games as a personal guest . . . . It was my impression the idea appealed to the president, but I noticed then White House deputy chief of staff Michael K. Deaver stiffen. He immediately excused himself and left the room. When Deaver returned, Secretary of State George P. Shultz was with him. Shultz immediately vetoed the idea of Reagan inviting Chernenko to the games, saying it would complicate other existing issues . . . ," Ueberroth said.
When the Soviets sought to name a known KGB operative as attache to the games, Ueberroth's office forwarded the request to the White House.
It languished for weeks before finding its way to the State Department, Ueberroth said. The department denied the application, then told the Soviets directly instead of through the Olympic committee, which was supposed to handle formal arrangements, Ueberroth said.