When the United States Olympic team takes up residence here next summer, it will occupy two-thirds of a slab-sided 16-story high-rise apartment house known as "building number 10" at the Moscow Olympic Village. The athletes and officials will find the beds, chairs and tables of their pleasant apartments well designed and reasonably comfortable - but extraordinarily heavy.
"It has been learned that 30 percent of the furniture in an Olympic Village gets broken," said a Soviet Olympic Games official the other day. "So we have made our furniture heavier than usual." Then he smiled.
And when the 22nd Olympiad is over and the horde of athletes, trainers, coaches, administrators and other officials ebb to the far corners of the globe to savor victories or brood over losses, the furniture will be moved out to Moscow's privileged hotels and dormitories which already have been earmarked as recipients.
For the new owners, used to the shoddy workmanship and indifferent quality of Soviet goods, the well-made, blond and dark-stained chairs, tables, beds and couches will constitute a special legacy from the foreign sportsmen, who will be treated with extraordinary largesse, even by Soviet standards of cloying hospitality for favored visitors.
In the Soviet Union, a land of third-class services, the athletes of the 1980 Olympics will go first class.
The Olympic Village, comprising 18 16-story apartment buildings, a 4,000-seat cafeteria, a cultural palace, stores, storage rooms and practice areas, is being finished with the kind of care normally seen only in buildings ings owned by the prestigious Academy of Sciences, or the powerful Interior Ministry, which runs one branch of the secret police.
On a recent tour of the site, just an eight-minute drive through heavy Moscow traffic from 101,339-seat Lenin Stadium, in the Luzhniki complex where the opening and closing ceremonies as well as many of the major competitions will be held, a visitor found a quality-control engineer inspecting the work in one of the apartment building. Such specialists are in short supply in this country, hoarded by the defense industries and seldom seen outside the confines of the most prestigious projects.
The cafeteria, boasted the Tass press agency recently, will offer the teams 40 separate dishes daily, a culinary feat which the Soviets say goes far beyond the official requirements of the International Olympic Committee.
IOC President Lord Killanin has visited most of the Moscow sites, pronouncing them the best laid-out and most serviceable of any recent Olympics. This verdict came despite a drive by the Moscow Olympic Organizing Committee to scale down their grandiose original plans once the city was chosen for the 22nd games.
The village also includes three "devotional rooms" for religious athletes. This may be the first time since 1917 Bolshevik revolution that the Soviet state has spent its money for worship. The rooms will be used later for "community activities," an official said.
In making plans for the Olympics, Moscow's architects and engineers had a good head start. The city has an unusually rich sports life, with many arenas, pools, tracks and stadiums already in use. The major site, the Luzhniki complex, was built 22 years ago to house the first Moscow International Youth Festival. It now sprawls on more than 100 pleasantly landscaped acres just a few miles south of the Kremlin on the Moscow River.
The stadium, heart of the complex where most track and field events will be conducted, has been refurbished with new locker rooms, new seats, better VIP areas and four huge new light towers for the television cameras that will beam the games to perhaps as many as one billion people around the world.
"They ruin the design, but what can you do?" lamented Alexander Golubinsky, a construction chief for the Moscow organizing committee. Part of the stadium area will be in artificial "Tartan" turf bought from a U.S. firm, and part will be natural grass.
Volleyball matches will be held in a new 30-by-40-meter arena being built to the east of Lenin Stadium. When finished, the domed building will have one of the U.S.S.R.'s largest unobstructed indoor sports spaces. It is called "the crab" by Golubinsky and the project workers, because its 28 tapered arches make it look just like something that scuttled from a science-fiction movie.
It is one of the few totally new buildings being constructed here for the Olympics, and when the Games are over, Golubinsky said, it will be turned into a six-court indoor tennis facility, in keeping with the Moscow master plan for using all the Olympic buildings.
Elsewhere in the Luzhniki complex, judo and gymnastics will be in the Sports Palace to the west, which is now being expanded to provide better warmup facilities for some teams.
Dynamo (pronounced dee-nah-mo - accent on the second syllable) Stadium, to the north on broad Leningradski Prospeki, which for years has jumped to soccer-mad Russian crowds, also is being equipped with light banks for soccer and field hockey matches. Further out Leningradski, the Red Army Stadium and sports complex will handle fencing and wrestling.
The other major sports site will be to the northeast, where a complex of new and rebuilt facilities lie along Prospect Mira ("peace" in Russian). Here the Soviets are constructing two separate swimming and diving pools, as part of a huge new indoor arena, to avoid the kind of scheduling foul-up that occurred in Montreal in 1976, when the divers were forced to compete late at night after the swimmers had cleared the single competition pool.
"This improvement is new to the Olympics and will be incorporated in future games," said Golubinsky proudly. Boxing and basketball also will be held in this huge building, whose sway-backed roof is now just emerging from the construction site. Broad new approach roads are being cut through the old neighborhood to serve the stadium.
Perhaps the most ambitious building is nearby, a 45,000-seat circular soccer stadium which will be the biggest covered arena in Europe. Olympic basketball and boxing are scheduled there. After the games, it will be used for ice hockey and "bandy," a 30-year-old game which crosses ice and field hockey. Teams of 11 per side, on skates and carrying curved sticks called "bandies," hit a hard ball at a field hockey-like net.
Avidly followed here, only Scandinavians seem rugged enough to play it regularly outside the U.S.S.R.
Sports of less interest to Americans, such as cycling, rowing, archery, weightlifting and equestrian events will be staged at scattered sites on the outskirts of the city. In each case, the Russians are moving rapidly to finish the sites amid assertions these are better than any other previous Olympic city's. Design innovations in the rowing and cycling areas have proved so successful that the Soviets believe they may be made requirements in future games.
However, some problems have cropped up. For example, when the Duke of Edinburgh visited here recently to inspect the equestrian facilities, he reportedly expressed the earthy opinion that, "If all the horses (urinate) at once, there's going to be trouble." The remarks of Prince Philip, an acknowledged world expert in equestrian sports, were duly noted and changes have been made in that crucial, if delicate, aspect of the riding facilities.
Informal close-up inspection of construction sites is nearly impossible. The projects are fenced off and tightly guarded by the uniformed police of the Interior Ministry. The Olympic Organizing Committee runs monthly tours to some sites, but even then, difficulties can occur.
During a recent official visit to the well-guarded Olympic Village, where workers have been drafted from as far away as Georgia and Azerbaidzhan, uniformed police suddenly materialized to confront two American correspondents who were taking photographs. Polite but firm, they asked for identification and explanation, and when the official guide came up, they sought documents as well.
For the athletes, such security is sure to be a comfort after the 1972 tragedy in Munich when Black September guerillas raided the Israeli team headquarters. In the ensuing episode, 11 team members and hostages and five terrorists were slain.
This Olympic Village, in the heart of a city which teems with police of all kinds, will be protected beyond the notions of most westerners. Surrounded by a high, narrow-mesh fence, access will be carefully controlled for athletes and public alike. Most contacts between the athletes and outsiders will be confined to a series of special meeting rooms inside the compound, but separated from the living area.
The Soviets are not adept at crowd control, but they are masters at keeping people barred from places. In this, too, they are eager to show how much better they can perform than any other country ever has.