Robert J. Kane, president of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), told the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday that moving the Summer Olympics from Moscow to another site or multible," and that if the U.S. commits itself early to not sending athletes to Moscow it could be "out there alone, swaying in the wind."
Warren Christopher, deputy secretary of state recently returned from conferences with European allies, insisted in testimony before the same committee that the games could be moved to an alternate site "with three or four months lead time," and that he expects "at least 20 other nations, probably more" to join the U.. in its position that if the games cannot be moved from Moscow or cancelled, they should be boycotted.
In testimony before the House committee, which rapidly reported out favorably a resolution supporting the president's position, Kane and Christoher also differed on the likelihood of the International Olympic Committee to move, postpone or cancel the games, and the wisdom of the U.S. "going it alone" if necessary if the IOC goes ahead as scheduled with the games in Moscow, July 19-Aug. 3.
Christopher reiterated the administation's position that "removal of the Olympics is probably the strongest single action we could take," short of military action, to persuade the Soviets to withdraw its invasion forces from Afghanistan and punish them for their recent aggression and renewed crackdown on dissidents.
He also emphasized that "the first and most attractive alternative is to persuade the IOC to move the Games. If that can be done quickly, I am confident the Games could be held this year . . . in one or more alternative sites."
Failing that, he said, the United States and "like-minded nations" should not participate in the Moscow Games. He predicted that "20 or more nations would support us," but said that even if the U.S. found no support abroad, "I think we ought to go it alone . . . We ought to stand on principle."
Christopher said that the governments, if not the national Olympics committees, of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain already had expressed support of the U.S. position, and that "a great number of others -- some major and some minor -- will follow."
In a significant development, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin has informed the United States that his government will support a boycott unless the Soviet Union withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported last night.
Christopher also cited a meeting of the foreign ministers of 43 Islamic nations in islamabad, Pakistan, this weekend, where the Olympic boycott issue is expected to be discussed. A favorable response in that Third World forum could be a major boost to the administration's efforts.
Kane earlier had said, "We have talked to the Olympic committees of other nations, and none of them is for a boycott, despite what the papers say."
He read to the committed an acerbic cable he had received from Richard Pound, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, that began: "Our friends from the United States government seem to have an unerring instinct for doing the wrong thing in all delicate matters of international affairs . . ."
Kane told the committee that it would be very difficult to persuade the IOC to move, postpone or cancel the Games at a Feb. 9 meeting in Lake Placid, N.Y. that the USOC has called for that purpose because, "whether you agree or not," the Soviets technically have not broken any IOC rules.
Kane said the USOC had argued, in telephone conversations with IOC Presdient Lord Killanin, that Moscow should be stripped of the Games because the Soviets have violated the human rights provisions of the IOC charter. Killanin disagreed, he said, but the argument would be made again in the wake of the Soviet actions Tuesday in exiling dissident Dr. Andrei Sakharov.
But afterwards he said he was not optimistic about changing the IOC's position. "They don't consider the movement into Afghanistan any different from our part in Vietnam, or France's going into Chad," he told reporters."And Lord Killanin says the human rights arguments don't apply." r
Kane said that for the U.S. to withdraw from the Moscow Games without widespread support would be a precipitous move, and that "the U.S. is the only nation in the world which alone could undercut the Olympic movement to the point of extermination."