The United States Olympic Committee will salute the entire U.S. Olympics team in a five-day "honor program" beginning today.
The athletes have been invited to a White House dinner and reception Wednesday night by President Carter. They will receive gold-plated medals in a noon ceremony Wednesday on the west steps of the Capitol that will be open to the public.
More than 600 medals will be presented to the 505 U.S. team members, coaches and managers by officials of the USOC, which paid more than $50,000 for the medals authorized by Congress after the president decided to boycott the Moscow Olympics in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Wednesday festivities will cap off five days of parties, sightseeing tours, press conferences and banquets for the athletes, coaches and Olympic officials.
"It is the United States Olympic Committee's desire to show our athletes, coaches and managers that they are special to the nation," said USOC Executive Director F. Don Miller. "It's our way of honoring the athletes who qualified as Olympians, but will not be going to Moscow to represent this country at the Olympic Games. This group of athletes would have done a magnificent job in the competitions, and we want them to know how much the nation thinks of them."
About 90 percent of the U.S. athletes are expected to attend the ceremonies, which the USOC began planning in the spring when it appeared certain that the U.S. would skip the Games.
The only team that will not be represented here will be the swimming team, which is competing in a national-championship meet in California.
"There is a misconception that the United States government financially sponsored this ceremony," said Barron Pittenger, the USOC's director of special events. "But it did not. In the conduct of this exercise, the USOC is paying for everything."
Pittenger said that arrangements have not been finalized for the White House reception and dinner. "It is our understanding that the president will greet the athletes at the White House banquet in a reception line, much like the affair he held for our Winter Olympians."
A White House spokesman said the president will attend the Wednesday night reception "unless some world event interferes."
"The president has recognized that the athletes deserve to be honored for their sacrifices," the spokesman continued. "Mr. Carter's administration is giving all that it has to assure the athletes of a fine stay in Washington."
More than 400 of the Olympians will arrive today in time for a dinner and bus tour of the city.