In 1976, Bill Bradley, then a basketball player for the New York Knicks, now a senator from New Jersey, laid out the following scenario in an article for a newspaper.
"The Olympic Games are scheduled for Moscow. It is 1980. The political disputes of the previous years -- the North Korean pullout in 1964, the racial protests of 1968, the terrorist attack of 1972, and the China-Taiwan dispute of 1976 -- are part of the Olympic legacy as much as the spirit of sportsmanship of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games . . .
"Suddenly two weeks before the opening ceremony, the president summons the head of the United States Olympic Committee to the White House. Two days later, the highest United States Olympic Committee official . . . announces our withdrawal from the Olympics . . . the Olympic Games as we knew them in the post World War II era are dead."
Except for the timing -- the pullout request occurred months, not weeks, before the games -- and a few other minor details, Bradley's 1976 prediction is unsettlingly accurate.
Sen. Bradley, a Democrat from Jew Jersey, who won a gold metal in 1964 as a member of the American basketball team, laughed when asked if he had an "inside track" on future events.
"That scenario formed as a result of my exposure to the Olympics personally and observing the politicizing of the Olympics over the years," Bradley told a group of reporters in his office last week.
"It was only a matter of time, in my view, before the conflicts became so great that it would force some changes in the Games or bring the Games to a halt," he said.
In 1976 the "rampant nationalism" of the Games bothered Bradley so much that he suggested the United States should discontinue its participation in the Games unless sereral fundamental changes were made.
"That's still my position as it pertains to the Games," he said. "We must seize this opportunity to bring about changes, that's my hope."
In the 1976 article, he suggested five changes in the Games:
The Olympics should be open to everyone because amateurism is impossible to interpret.
Team sports should be eliminated because participants compete for nationalism rather than themselves and thus the events easily simulate war games.
Everyone should get a participatn's medal and silver and bronze metals should be eliminated; a gold medal should only go to someone who breaks a world record so the athlete is competing against a standard and not another country.
The Olympics should be situated permanently in Greese.
The Games should be more participant-oriented and lengthened to give athletes a chance to get to know each other; events might be expanded to include cultural and artistic events.
"In such an environment the stress would lie not on the rewards taken home but the experience of living for two months in a microcosm of the world," he said.
Bradley said he supports Carter's actions to boycott the Olympics and probably will vote for such a resolution in Congress.
"I'll want to see how it's worded. I would like some mention of using this opportunity" to change the Games, he said.
Bradley says he has sympathies with American athletes who have spent years and much of their own money preparing for the Games, but if their goal is to break world records, they can do that in other conpetitions.
He added, "Politics is really bigger than sports. People sometimes forget that because sports are such an important part of many people's lives."
But he said, in such instances as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, something larger, more important, was at stake.
"This is a very serious situation and this is a response the U.S. must take to send a message to the Soviet Union," Bradley said.
Asked if he thought an American pullout of the Games would make an impact on the Soviet Union, he replied, "Yes, having been there last summer and seen all the building going on for the Olympics."
Bradley doesn't support suggestions that a separate Western Olympics be held or that the Olympics be held in several cities. "It doesn't make a lot of sense," he says, adding that the purpose of the Olympics is to bring all the athletes of the world together to get to know each other.
"Unless the Olympic Games are modified, we should discontinue our participation in them," Bradley said. He admitted the Games would probably survive U.S. withdrawal, but unless the Games promote mutual understanding he sees no reason for them. Separate world tournaments could be held instead.