From his Manhattan office, E. Wallace Lawrence III ponders the logistics of shipping perhaps 4,000 Americans to Siberia.
"Yes, Siberia," Lawrence says. "I think it has something to do with the idea or sense of adventure."
Lawrence is the president of the Russian Travel Bureau Inc., the American company officially designated as the general sales agency for tickets and travel to the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
RTB was selected for the job by the U.S. Olympic Committee and is the sole American agency authorized to arrange accommodations and ticket sales. Each country has such an agency to facilitate arrangements with the Soviets.
An estimated 18,000 to 20,000 Americans will attend the Moscow Games and there are approximately 8,000 hotel beds a night available for them in the city throughout the two weeks of contests.
Part of Lawrence's job is to resolve the bodies-versus-beds dilemma.
A sample survey of Americans who want to attend the Olympics showed that they also want to tour other parts of the Soviet Union, so RTB has developed of package tours.
"The American public seemed to like that (idea) because most figured if they were going to go that far away, they'd like to see other cities and parts of the country," Lawrence said.
Thus, RTB has arranged seven 15-day trips and two 22-day trips with varying itineraries to satisfy the expressed touring interests of Americans - including the 20 percent who said they would like to visit Siberia, which Lawrence said is "very picturesque."
Each of the tours includes six nights in Moscow, after which the visitors must move on to free beds for the next groups of Americans.
While there are about 8,000 beds available in Moscow for Americans, Lawrence said, "We've selected only about 6,500 beds because we did not accept all the properties offered. We accepted what we considered prime accommodations.
"What is considered first-class in the Soviet Union would be what we considered first-class here 10 to 15 years ago. They don*t go in for overstuffed chairs, deep carpets and fancy lamps. They're spartan accommodations."
An energy crisis might boost the package rates a but for now the 15-day package costs $1,550 and the 22-day tour, $1,850.
The price, based on a New York departure-arrival, includes airfare local transportation in the Soviet Union, meals, hotel rooms (double occupancy), theater and sight-seeing excursions. RTB is also arranging for visas.
What the price does not include is tickets to the Games. RTB will be responsible for the sale of almost 218,000 tickets, about double the amount allotted the U.S. at the 1976 Montreal Games.
Tickets are expected to range from $4.50 to $40. with the higher price going for choice seats at key events and the opening and closing ceremonies. There are five different price ranges for tickets and Lawrence expects the American market to cluster around $12 to $15 tickets.
"There would be at least one ticket per day for each American visitor and I think we will have enough tickets if some people want to go to two a day," he said.
So far the U.S. has been given only 2,800 tickets for the opening ceremonies and 3,100 for the closing, but negotiations are under way for more.
The apportionment of tickets for events that traditionally appeal most to Americans are: track and field (60,000), boxing (15,000), gymnastics (5,000), swimming (10,000) and basketball (10,000).
There are tickets for all the events and Lawrence said, "We expect we'll be able to negotiate or swap tickets with other countries. We have a lot of tickets for soccer (40,000), for example, and I suspect we'll be able to fan those out to Europeans or South Americans.
"Also, there will be barter stations at the American hotels where tickets can be exchanged - not sold."
At those hotels and at the others Americans will stay at on the tours will be 150 RTB employes who speak Russian.
Reservations for the package tours are on a first-come,, first-served basis, and Lawrence estimates there are 7,000 openings left.
Accommodations in Moscow are based upon three time periods: July 19-23, July 24-29, and July 30-Aug. 3.
"We are asking people for their choices of what they want and, with a computer, we're trying to match up as many first, second, and third choices as possible."
Lawrence said a $500 deposit is being asked, with future installments of $350. "All we can do is take the deposits until we reach the saturation point," he said. "But if they continue to come in at this rate, we could be sold out by July."
A waiting list will be compiled. Americans who make down payments have until next Feb. 1 to cancel and get all but a$100 administrative fee back. Additionally, a $49 insurance policy guarantees money back in the event of a death, injury or illness after Feb. 1.
Those wanting to make reservations or to get more detailed information should write: RTB - Olympic Travel, P.O. Box 4280, Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y. 10017.