The Soviet news agency Tass yesterday accused the United States of attempting to disgrace the Goodwill Games by advising athletes to bring their own food because of contamination from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
"It definitely looks like another U.S. attempt to blacken the games," Tass said. "The U.S. State Department says yes to the sportsmen to come to the games and then advises them to take food with them because of possible contamination. In a word, somebody in the White House wants to blacken the celebration of the Goodwill Games -- just to rub salt in old wounds.
"Also very surprising is their ban on American singer Michael Jackson from coming to Moscow to sing in the opening ceremony," Tass said. "He was told there is a chance that radiation will influence his vocal cords."
Officials of Turner Broadcasting System, which owns broadcast rights to the games, said previous commitments and costs prevented Jackson from attending.
The games are expected to draw 3,600 athletes from 61 countries, including 550 from the United States. Western embassies in Moscow have advised their citizens that higher-than-normal radiation levels have been found in food since the April 26 accident at Chernobyl that killed at least 26 people, but they also have said the levels are not dangerous.
The Soviet government has warned people living near the plant, 600 miles southwest of the capital, not to drink fresh milk because of contamination.
On Wednesday, the Sovetskaya Rossiya newspaper said there were fears in the United States that the Goodwill Games could rival the Olympics in importance. The United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
"Opponents of detente are worried over the development of sports contacts between athletes of the West and East," the paper said. "They are afraid that the Goodwill Games could assume the same significance as the Olympic Games."