One thing is apparent at these Goodwill Games: Soviet Union officials want very much for them to be successful.
One other thing is apparent: Those who claimed that this extravaganza, the first in what is hoped will be a continuing series, was both a commercial and a political venture were correct.
This past week, representatives of the Games' organizers' -- the Turner Broadcasting System and the Soviet government -- staged two lengthy news conferences.
At the first one, former U.S. astronaut Thomas P. Stafford tried to sell Omega watches. At the second, 1984 swimming gold medalist Rowdy Gaines said, "This is not a business venture. How could anyone think that?"
As Gaines spoke, he sat behind a mountain of Pepsi-Cola, the only soda available at any of the Games' venues or official sites.
Stafford was part of a news conference that also included Soviet cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Valery Kubasov. In 1975, all three men were involved in the historic U.S.-Soviet linkup in space. They were brought here to symbolize the new U.S.-Soviet sports linkup.
Stafford works for Omega watches. He is here representing Omega. In response to a question about the similarities between athletes and astronauts, Stafford talked at length and finally mentioned how important timing and precision are, noting, "That's why I'm so glad to have an association with Omega watches."
And, when the news conference was over, Stafford presented a special gift to each of his former colleagues in space. Guess what they were? "These Omega watches," Stafford said, "have special engravings on them."
The astronaut/cosmonauts were followed by a group known as "Athletes United for Peace." Most of them have traveled around the world for the past 11 months, courtesy of TBS, to promote the Goodwill Games. They included Gaines, fellow swimmers Steve Lundquist and Nancy Hogshead, former basketball player Ann Meyers, U.S. water polo captain Terry Schroeder, triple jumper Willie Banks, Carl Lewis's sister Carol and several Soviet athletes, most notably swimmer Vladimir Salnikov.
The joint U.S.-Soviet news conference was a vehicle to announce the signing of a letter by these athletes declaring that they were for peace and against war. After everyone had signed, the athletes lined up and locked arms and rocked back and forth together. It looked just like the old Coca-Cola commercial, except that Coke isn't allowed here.
But when someone asked the athletes what they thought would happen to this spirit of cooperation in the event of a Soviet boycott of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the mood turned cool. "I haven't heard anything about that happening," Banks said.
The Soviet moderator, Viktor Kydratsev, snapped angrily at the U.S. journalist who asked the question, then apologized afterward.
"I cannot speak for the government," Kydratsev said. "But I think all the world will be at the Olympics in 1988."
So does Gaines. "From what I've gathered talking to people on the tour and over here, it will be worked out," he said. "I could be wrong. But I really believe that."
Lundquist said, "We all know what goes on in the real world. But what are we going to do, sit around? If we can promote the idea, as athletes, that we can get along, then that's a start.
"The other night when Vladimir Salnikov broke the world record in the 800-meter freestyle , I was really pulling for him to do it. I think that kind of thing is great.
"There are going to be setbacks; we know that. But we have to try."
And there is a spirit of trying that in some cases is producing results. As Kydratsev pointed out to Ken Bastian, a translator for TBS, "One year ago, you and I could never had held a press conference together like that."