Lord Killanin of Ireland, in his farewell news conference as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), today criticized the Carter administration for organizing the boycott of the Moscow Olympics and implied that the boycott could prove ineffective.
Addressing reporters on the eve of the Moscow Games, which the United States and about 50 other countries have bypassed to protest Soviet aggression in Afghanistan, Killanin said: "I don't want to be offensive in any way, but I think it's unfortunate that the president of the United States, on sporting matters, was not fully informed on facts. I think this led to the trouble.
"I only hope that some of the heads of state I've met, and the governments I've met, are better advised on important matters than they are on sport," continued the 66-year-old Irish peer, who is stepping down after eight years as the head of the Olympic movement, "Because if they're not, God help us all."
President Carter, in the wake of the Afghan invasion, called for the summer Olympics to be moved from Moscow, postponed or canceled, declaring that the Soviet capital was an inappropriate site for a festival devoted to peace while Soviet troops were in Afghanistan. He asked like-minded nations to boycott Moscow and join in "alternative Games."
While Killanin privately expressed grave concern over the Soviet aggression, he publicly proclaimed that the Games would go on as scheduled because the IOC had an obligation to the Moscow organizing committee and no Olympic rules had been broken. He and many other Olympic officials were infuriated by what they considered clumsy handling of the crisis by the U.S government
"I think, first of all, they did not understand how sport is organized in the world," Killanin said today. "They did not understand the working of the Internatinal Olympic Committee. They did not understand the workings of the international (sports) federations and national federations. To my mind, they had virtually no knowledge other than about American football and baseball, which if they had been in the Olympic Games, perhaps we wouldn't have had the boycott."
Asked if he thought the boycott had been effective, Killanin said he couldn't answer that until the Games were over and had been assessed. But later he added: "I think the word 'boycott' originated in Western Ireland, where people would not pay their rents to the landlords. It didn't work then, and boycotts basically don't work. I believe boycotts are counterproductive."
Killanin said that before the Afghan invasion touched off the turmoil, he expected that approximately 100 national Olympic committees would send teams to Moscow. When he visited Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev in April, Killanin said, "I told him I thought we'd be very lucky if we had 50." The number has turned out to be 81.
Asked if he was satisfied that the Soviet Union would not use the Games as a propaganda vehicle, Killanin said: I can assure you that every city that hosts the games uses them for some sort of propaganda. I can only take you back to Munich (1972), where there was an effort to show that the Germans were no longer Nazis and they put all their policemen into little blue suits. Montreal (1976) wished to show other things, to use the Games for their development. I wouldn't say there were any exceptions to this anywhere.
"Unfortunately, it is a shop window," he went on, emphasizing that television has given the Olympics a massive international audience, "and I only hope it will be used for sporting and for cultural reasons, not for political reasons. . . . as I have stresed, we do not award the Games in relationship to the politics or political philosophy of a country."
He said that there was great irony in the fact that he had spent so much time, and had so many meetings with high Soviet officials, in efforts to assure that Israel and China would be allowed in the Moscow Games, only to have them decide in the end not to come. a
Political questions predictably dominated Killanin's last scheduled news conference. But he touched on other subjects as he reminisced about his stormy eight-year term, which ends with the closing of the Moscow Games Aug. 3. He spoke with wit and fondness about the accomplishments of his administration, and with sadness about the political troubles he will turn over to his successor, Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain.
"You can describe me as looking tired, which I am, and as looking relieved, which I am." he said.
"It's been a pretty traumatic eight years," he added, recalling that he was president-elect when Israeli team members were massacred by terrorists in the Munich Olympic Village, and that he had presided during other tumultuous events: Taiwan's exclusion by the Canadian government in 1976, the boycott by 26 black African nations in protest of New Zealand's rugby ties with South Africa the same year, Denver's withdrawal after being awarded the 1976 Winter Olympics and the present boycott.
He said he also regretted that the IOC had not elected its first woman member during his term, but hoped the organization's all-male tradition would end in the near future.
Killanin also praised the recent work of the IOC Medical Commission, and warned again about "the dangers of the development of the artificial man or woman by the use of anabolic steroids" and other drugs.
He urged standardization of rules concerning suspension of athletes caught "doping," and suggested a lifetime ban from the Olympics for those caught taking banned drugs.
"To many of us it seems very strange that someone can be suspended for life for taking money, but be reinstated when he has cheated in other ways, mainly by taking artifical stimulants or drugs or steroids," he said.
Killanin said he favored observation of IOC protocol in the raising of the American flag at closing ceremonies of the Moscow Games, to signify that the next Summer Games are in Los Angeles even though the U.S. government has strongly requested that its national flag and anthem not be used.
I've always felt that the Olympic Games had too many flags. I'm all for the ceremonies, but I don't think all our ceremonies -- especially the opening and closing ones -- are necessarily to the best advantage of the movement, he said.
"I think because of television, it has been made part of show business rather than competition between individuals . . . I would prefer to see no flags, or the city's flags, but as it is within the protocol at the moment, I would like to make sure the protocol is carried out."