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Politics and sports? Soviets linked them in '76

The Kremlin's indignation about President Carter's call to boycott the Moscow Olympics because of Soviet aggression against Afghanistan contrasts strangely with Soviet behavior in conjunction with the 1976 Chess Olympics in Haifa, Israel, a site approved by the International Chess Federation.

At that time the Soviets and the rest of the East bloc (as well as Yugoslavia) boycotted the Olympics on the ground that Israel was "an aggressor country" in its war with its Arab neighbors.

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The Haifa Olympics, conducted under strictest security measures out of fear of terrorist actions by the Arabs, were nevertheless a success. More than 50 countries took part.

Thus the Soviets gave the Haifa Olympics, according to their own terminology, an openly political aspect, contrary to their former line of "sport above politics."

Ironically enough, the Israeli women's team, which included an emigre player from the Soviet Union, benefited from the absence of the Soviets and Soviet-bloc teams by capturing the first prize in Haifa.

The American team won the first prize in the men's section.

The US-sponsored boycott of the projected Olympic Games in Moscow counts largely on the pyschological effect of the boycott inside the USSR.


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