A petition signed by about 70 athletes from the 120-member U.S. Winter Olympic team will be sent to President Carter this week to state opposition to his call for a boycott of the Moscow Olympics this summer.
When members of the winter team met with Carter at the White House Monday, they had hoped to present it to him personally, but decided against doing so because signatures were still being collected.
Rich Colella, one of two members of the athletes' advisory council to the U.S. Olympic Committee, who organized the drive, said yesterday that the petition had not been adquately circulated amid all the hoopla of leaving Lake Placid for Washington.
The idea for the petition was broached Saturday night at a meeting of team captains and written late Sunday, Collella said. Because of traveling arrangements, the Alpine skiing team, which had to leave for a Monday competition, and several individual athletes never saw the petition, he said.
The U.S. ice hockey team, which astounded the sports world by winning a gold metal decided against signing it, Colella said.
The petition, Colella said, "thanks the president for the invitation to the White House and talks about the importance of the Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit."
The petition also says, in part: "There is no substitute for the Olympic Games. They do not belong to one country, but to the world. We urge you to do all you possibly can to let the Summer Olympic athletes enjoy the same Olympic experience that we, members of the Winter Olympic team, have enjoyed."
Colella said none of the athletes who signed the petition disagreed with Carter's stand on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
"This isn't a political thing at all," he said. "We're just trying to say something that might help the other athletes."
confusion over whether the petition had actually been delivered to the president developed when Eric Heiden, winner of five gold medals in speed skating, told reporters the petition was to be presented.