The Carter administration, in two separate meetings today, hopes to check the growing desire in the amateur sports community to field a U.S. team at the Moscow Olympics this summer over the administration's objections.
Representatives of the national governing bodies of the 32 Olympic sports, who would compose the controlling bloc on a boycott vote by the U.s. Olympic Committee, have been invited to meet with State Department officials this afternoon.
In a morning session at the White House, a four-member group representing the USOC's Athletes' Advisory Council is to meet with the president's deputy counsel, Joseph Onek, on a proposal the council made that would allow U.S. participation, with restraints.
The White House already has issued an unofficial rejection of the council's plan, drafted a day after the president declared that the United States would not go to the Moscow Olympics because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Under the athletes' "counterproposal," American athletes would participate in the Games, but not in opening, closing or medal ceremonies as a visible protest of the invasion. The plan also calls for the athletes to stay in the Soviet Union only on the day of their event and to restrict themselves to the Olympic village and training areas only. They would not engage in tourism.
A White House aide, after reviewing the proposal said such plans had been considered and discarded before Carter called for the boycott.
Still, Anita DeFrantz, an Olympic rower chosen to speak for the athletes, said yesterday that she hopes "we'll have something to talk about (today) and not be flat-out rejected."
The State Department meeting with representatives of the national governing bodies was called largely in response to a meeting last weekend in Colorado Springs where opposition to a boycott intensified.
That meeting was called to discuss the administration's plans for alternative games for U.S. and foreign athletes after the Olympics. But, according to some of those present at the closed session, it evolved into an emotional rally in support of participation.
"The group was leaning very strongly toward finding a way to send a team to Moscow," said the president of a national governing body, who asked not to be identified yesterday. "Several people thought it was not fair to vote against our own fundamental objectives.
"If the government, in its wisdom, thought it should restrict travel, then restrict travel. But don't tell us to voluntarily commit suicide."
The State Department, which was represented by Nelson Ledsky, director of the department's Olympic Task Force, "could not have been very satisfied with the results of that meeting," the governing body president said.
"I think they're very concerned and hope they might find us more amenable to their views," he added.
Invitations to compete in the Games are sent to national Olympic committees which, this year, have until May 24 to accept or decline them. The USOC's House of Delegates is to meet April 11-13 on the issue, but may delay a decision until May 24.
USOC officials have previously indicated that they believe the committee will support the boycott as Carter requested.