The two Americans on the 89-member International Olympic Committee (IOC) said yesterday there is virtually no chance that the IOC will act favorably on a U.S. resolution that the 1980 Summer Olympics be moved from Moscow, postponed or canceled in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Executive Board of the United States Olympic Committee, acting on a request from President Carter, unanimously adopted a resolution Saturday "to propose to the IOC that the 1980 Summer Olympic Games be transferred to another site or multiple sites, or be postponed or canceled for this year."
"I don't think there's any chance that the IOC would do anything about this under present circumstances. . . . I'm quite certain that none of those options would be exercised," Douglas F. Roby of Ypsilanti, Mich., an IOC member since 1952, told The Washington Post.
"I think the USOC proposal will be turned down," said Julian K. Roosevelt of New York, a member of the IOC since 1974. "There's no way that I know of that the IOC can cancel or move the Games unless the Organizing Committee in Moscow breaks its contract, and it can't postpone the Games without changing the rules."
President Carter has further requested that the United States not enter a team if Soviet troops are not fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by Feb. 20 and the Games go on as scheduled in Moscow, July 19-Aug. 3. The USOC deferred action on that request until after the IOC acts on its proposal at its meetings in Lake Placid, N.Y., Feb. 10-12.
The IOC has not made any official comment on the resolution adopted by the USOC at its meeting in Colorado Springs over the weekend, but the Associated Press quoted an unidentified source yesterday at the organization's headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, as saying that relocation of the Games would be "against IOC rules" and that postponing them would be "absolutely impossible."
"There are only two possibilities -- either the Games take place as scheduled in Moscow or else they are canceled," the AP quoted the source. "But to cancel them, there would have to be a situation of Force majeure under IOC rules, such as a world war or a natural disaster. The only other way the Games could be taken away from Moscow is if the Organizing Committee was not abiding by IOC rules for organization. This, so far, has not been the case."
White House counsel Lloyd Cutler, after presenting the president's position to the USOC board Saturday, told reporters that he thinks a case could be made that the Soviet organizers have violated IOC rules.
"While I understand that there is a contract between the IOC and the Soviet Union for these Games, I would think this invasion, and the threat it poses to the rest of the world, is a force majeure in the clearest sense of the word," Cutler said, "and one would have little difficulty in showing that what the Soviets have done, and what they've planned to make out of these Games as a political event, is a violation of Olympic principles."
Deputy counsel Joseph Onek added, "The fact is that the contract between the IOC and the city of Moscow cannot be read solely on its four corners. If the Soviet Union takes actions, as we believe it has, which totally change the climate of the world and threaten the peace of the world, that is abrogation. All I can say is this: If the Soviet Union wishes to sue the IOC if the IOC chooses to cancel, that's a case that I as a lawyer would not mind defending for the IOC."
White House attorneys have offered to assist the USOC in preparing the proposal it will present to IOC President Lord Killanin and other officers in a private meeting Feb. 9 and subsequently to the full IOC meeting.
Robert J. Kane, USOC president, said Sunday that he had read the resolution to Lord Killanin, who was "not at all receptive" to its substance, and Roby and Roosevelt said they couldn't imagine the IOC changing its position.
"Killanin has said flatly that they can't move the Games, and I don't think they could, knowing the amount of organization that goes into putting them on," Roby said. "I don't think any city could take it on this year, but even if there was one, Killanin's answer is that the IOC has a binding contract with Moscow."
Asked if the case Cutler and Onek outlined might sway the IOC, Roby said, "I'm sure they wouldn't get a favorable vote. The IOC wouldn't agree."
USOC officials think that postponement is the most viable of the options contained in their resolution, and will emphasize that option in their prresentation to the IOC, which owns the Games and contracts with a local organizing committee to stage and promote them. Postponement would require a change in IOC rules, which state that the Games shall be "celebrated in the last year of each Olympiad" -- Olympiads being four-year periods numbered consecutively from the first modern games held in Athens in 1896.
"The rules would have to be changed; the IOC can do whatever it wants with its own rules, but I think it is unlikely," said Roosevelt, an investment banker who won an Olympic gold metal in rowing in 1952.
Roby said he thought postponement would be "out of the question . . . The IOC has never done that, and I don't think they'd do it in this case."
Kane said Sunday that he thought he could count on the two Americans to vote for the USOC resolution in the IOC meetings, but Roosevelt said yesterday that he would not make up his mind until he heard all arguments and Roby said, "I think that under present circumstances I would vote against it because it would be impossible."