An astounding proposal has come from the executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee. With all the twisted logic in which Olympic officials specialize, he now is suggesting that a medal be struck in honor of the American athletes who voted this month to boycott the Moscow Olympics.
F. Don Miller also said he has other things in mind as a proper tribute to those athletes, and indirectly to the American Olympic officials who also voted. He said the Congress of the United States should assemble in special session in their honor. It also would be nice, he said, to stage a gala at the Kennedy Center, a big one, to underline the recognition they deserve.
Now, 19 of the athletes have shown their colors by filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the USOC's decision to abide by the president's demand to boycott.
The group argued in court papers filed Wednesday that the USOC, authorized by Congress to oversee American participation in the Olympic Games, has no power to ban athletes from the competition for "political, national interest, or national security reasons."
The athletes claim the Olympic Committee violated its own rules, which say that decisions about participation in the Games must remain free from any political or economic pressures.
Did you ever hear such refuse?
Even before their petty, whining law games, it took our Olympic heroes three months to decide on a simple act of patriotism to follow the president's wish. The Olympic officials also dragged their feet. After President Carter said he wanted the boycott in the national interest as a sharp rebuke to Soviet Russia for its invasion of Afghanistan, they left him cut and bleeding, if not wholly impotent in the eyes of America's allies who'd been asked to join the boycott.
At last, they voted for the boycott, 1604-797. But in the name of every true American patriot of history and the present, it was a shameful thing, 797 Americans giving comfort to the Soviets who had boasted that the selection of Moscow as the site of the Games was the whole world's endorsement of Soviet principles and its foreign policy. The tally also showed that 797 Olympians, if they had ever heard of Afghanistan, didn't care.
There were some athletes in a three-month pout who carped about the whole necessity for boycotting Moscow, and about their dashed dreams of getting an Olympic medal. Years of training wasted. You know, weepy stuff. But it was plain self-interest. So what if the Senate Foreign Relations committee gave the boycott unaminous support? Or that the House of Representatives urged it, 386-12? What's that to us?
It was the Olympic committeemen who opposed the boycott as much as, if not more than, the athletes, who make up only 20 percent of the Olympic electorate. There is ample evidence that hundreds of committeemen were pleased to vote against boycott and they undoubtedly influenced some athletes' votes.
Olympic committeemen have been described previously here as "those strutting peacocks who are overly impressed with their own Olympic blazers." When President Carter last January announced this country would boycott Moscow, they were quick to send him a clear message that they would decide what is in the best interest of the United States; not Mr. Carter, who was elected for that purpose by 48,825,939 voters.
The president was also reminded by F. Don Miller that all invitations to the Games go out from the International Olympic Committee to, not the governments, but the Olympic committees of each nation. It is theirs to accept or refuse. So there, Mr. President.
When it was reported that the president would take legal action, like denying passports to prevent U.S. athletes going to Moscow, Olympic committeemen quickly pointed out that this would be un-American.They said nothing about the un-Russian custom of denying passports to almost everybody.
The saddest comment of all has come lately from the president's top legal counsel Lloyd N. Cutler, who was charged with getting out the boycott vote. Perhaps overwhelmed by his own accomplishment, he has paid unnecessary tribute to America's reluctant Olympians.
"We must find an appropriate way for the entire country to honor them for their sacrifice, Cutler said, "and to recognize them as individuals . . . as much, if not more, than any Olympic team or medal winner in the past."
As debatable a statement as was ever uttered, I'd say, remembering that 797 of them didn't give a damn about the interest of the United States and 19 others are still trying to keep their cute toys for themselves.