The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is exploring the possibility of obtaining congressional citations and medals for U.S. athletes deprived of the opportunity to compete in this summer's Olympic Games in Moscow, and of honoring them at a gala testimonial at the Kennedy Center.
The USOC House of Delegates voted last weekend not to enter a team in the July 19-Aug. 3 Moscow games, supporting President Carter's demand for a boycott to repudiate the Soviet Union for its military intervention in Afghanistan.
The USOC will conduct Olympic trials as scheduled over the next 2 1/2 months in all sports in which the United States had qualified to send athletes, and will honor team members.
The Carter administration has pledged its support. "With respect to the athletes who will be giving up their chance to go to Moscow this year," said Lloyd Cutler, White House counsel, "we want to find an appropriate way for the entire country to honor them for their sacifice, and to recognize them as individuals . . . as much as, if not more than, any Olympic team or medal-winner in the past."
Cutler will meet with F. Don Miller, USOC executive director, in Washington late next week to discuss means of honoring athletes at that time.
"In my judgment," said Miller, "the program to honor the athletes should include some type of acknowledgement by a joint session of Congress, a medal, and perhaps a large entertainment at the Kennedy Center which would gain national attention.
"I would like to see some of our athletic facilities dedicated to the 1980 Olympic team, with all their names listed. It's extremely hard to find something that is going to give these athletes the recognition they so well deserve. Whatever we come up with, its going to be the very best we can do," Miller said.
Efforts to organize so called "alternative games" -- a sports festival for the athletes who do not go to Moscow that would bring all sports together at one site, or cluster them at several sites -- appear to be dead. However, U.S. athletes are presently planning to go ahead with scheduled pre-and post-Olympic international competition.
The White House, meanwhile, has not totally abandoned the "alternative games" concept.
"For the moment, we're clearly concentrating on developing the boycott," said Cutler. "When it becomes clear that athletes from a substantial number of major countries won't be going to Moscow, there may be interest in sending those athletes to various presently scheduled events, or to find some new events for them.
The Carter administration is "not presently planning" to forbid Americans to attend the Moscow Games as spectators, according to Cutler, but "may very well discourage it and say we don't think it's a good idea."
Some 35 American members of international sports federations that will meet in Moscow during or after the Games will not be discouraged from attending those meetings, and no attempt will be made to prevent U.S. journalists from covering the Games, Cutler said.
The USOC voted to withdraw its financial support of approximately 60 American referees, judges, and "technical staff" who were scheduled to work at the Moscow Games.
Approximately 200 American journalists have applied for accreditation for the Moscow Games through the USOC, not counting international wire services and NBC-TV, which are accredited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The U.S. press is entitled to 247 accreditations, according to the IOC.
USOC officials expect credential requests from U.S. radio and television networks to increase now that NBC has decided not to televise the Games for which it paid $87 million in rights and facilities fees.
NBC attorneys have decided that the network should not officially announce abandonment of its plans to provide 150 hours of coverage from Moscow until the USOC formally declines its invitation from the Moscow Olympic Organizing Committee on May 20.
Any statement before then might jeopardize NBC's attempts to recover 90 percent of its initial investment from Lloyd's of London, which insured the network against the possibilities of the Games being canceled or the U.S. team not participating, network sources said.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit on behalf of U.S. athletes prevented from going to Moscow appears imminent. Several legal groups are studying the possibility of filing a class action, contending that the USOC violated its constitutional and statutory responsibility to prepare and send a team to the Olympics.