A new Gallup Poll commissioned for The Washington Post indicates that public opinion in Great Britain, France and West Germany is opposed to boycotting this summer's Olympic Games in Moscow, in contrast to American attitudes.
In Britain -- where the national Olympic association voted last week to accept an invitation to Moscow, despite the opposition of Prime Minister Thatcher and a majority of Parliament -- 62 percent of respondents said they disagreed with an European boycott of the Games.
Asked the question, "Do you agree or disagree with this statement: 'Great Britain/France/West Germany should boycott the Moscow Olympics because of the Russian intervention in Afghanistan?'", 62 percent of the Britons polled said they disagreed, 28 percent agreed, and 10 percent were undecided.
In France, 56 percent said they disagreed, 15 percent agreed, and 28 percent had no opinion.
In West Germany -- considered a pivotal nation to the success of a boycott in Europe -- 31 percent said they disagreed, 14 percent agreed, and 28 percent had no opinion.
These figures appear to contradict a State Department official's observation yesterday that "public support for a boycott is growing in Europe."
Noting that at a meeting of 16 European national Olympic comittees in Brussels last weekend, eight expressed their intention of going to Moscow, and eight said they would delay a decision pending consultations with their governments' sports ministers, the State Department official said:
"We were encouraged, frankly. We expected the athletic associations to vote to accept the invitations promptly. The fact that half, including the West Germans and Italians, wanted to delay a decision suggests there is a growing understanding in European sports circles of the importance of this issue and the serious political issues involved in attendance at Moscow."
An Associated Press-NBC News poll released earlier in the week indicated that 65 percent of Americans favored a Moscow boycott, 26 percent were opposed, and 9 percent were uncertain.
In other boycott-related developments:
International Olympic Committee (IOC) Director Monique Berlioux hinted to reporters in Moscow that the IOC might consider accepting entries from individual athletes even if their national Olympic committees rejected invitations to the Games.
IOC President Lord Killanin has said previously that such action would be impossible without a change of IOC rules, usually a long and cumbersome procedure. Most national Olympic committees, including the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), strongly oppose such a rules change and say it is highly unlikely.
The IOC announced that journalists from countries which do not participate in the Games still can be accredited to cover them. The U.S. is entitled to 247 accreditations.
Berlioux said the IOC has decided to give financial aid to needy national Olympic committees to help them send teams to the Moscow Games. Aid presumably could be given to some committees that face termination of government subsidies as a means of enforcing a boycott decision, but Berlioux gave no details.
Berlioux said 105 nations had indicated their intention to participate at Moscow, but Soviet sources said only about 40 nations had officially expressed their intention to participate in writing.
The Carter administration requested and was granted an opportunity to send spokesmen to a meeting today in Colorado Springs of USOC officials and representatives of the national governing bodies of various sports. Contingency plans for international makeshift competition, in the event American athletes do not participate in Moscow, will be discussed.
White House counsel Lloyd Cutler said that reports the IOC might consider changing its rules to allow athletes to enter the Games as individuals are "very strong signs that they are very concerned a large number of countries and teams are going to decide not to come."
Cutler said the Carter administration does not expect the IOC to enact such a rules change, but that if it did, "We have confidence the large a majority of American athletes would be unwilling to go against strong public and governmental opinion on a major matter of national security, and would choose not to go."
Cutler reiterated that he expects the USOC to vote to decline its invitation to the Moscow Games, in compliance with the president's request, despite some voices within the USOC calling for the organization to send a team to Moscow.