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Boston set to be first in line with counter-Olympic offer

Boston is jumping the "free world Olympics" gun. While White House officials scan international sites for the proposed alternative competition to the summer Olympic in Moscow -- and while US sports officials and athletes still cast longing eyes at the Soviet-hosted event -- Boston is sprinting ahead with its offer to hold the counter-competition here.

More than a dozen major metropolitan areas have signaled their interest in hosting some or all of the alternative events for athletes from countries that follow President Carter's lead in boycotting the Moscow games.

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But officials of "the Hub of the Universe" -- as Bostonians have long referred to their city -- apparently will be the first to present government and sports officials with a detailed study March 18 of the feasibility of holding the alternative games in this university- surrounded and highly sports-minded city.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Boston's first-out-of-the-starting-blocks bid will end in laurels or a wasted effort.

Privately, US Olympic Committee (USOC) and White House authorities agree that Boston has several advantages, including 60,000 dormitory rooms and a wide range of athletic facilities offered by several metropolitan college campuses. In addition, they say, Boston's relatively small size and its public transportation system make it an easy city to move around in.

But they also list a number of hurdles. First, says a White House aide invovled with the negotiations, Mr. Carter wants to avoid the political implications of using US cities for the games, preferring that they be held in several international sites. It is "highly improbable," this aide says, that a single location will be chosen, even if the counter-competition is held in the US.

Secondly, the aide stresses, all site decisions will be made, not by the White House, but by the international sports federations that closely regulate the 23 amateur events held during the summer Olympics.

Among the major metropolitan areas that have contacted the White House or the USOC are Philadelphia, Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and New York-New Jersey. New Orleans has offered the use of its Superdome, and Rhode Island Gov. J. Joseph Garrahy (D) has suggested that yachting events be held at Newport.

The USOC, however, is still holding out for the official Olympics in Moscow, says spokesman Dennis Keegan. A final vote from the USOC, which includes all the national sports federations, is not expected until the committee meets in mid-April.

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Still, agree White House and USOC officials, opposition from the international federations -- whose disapproval of Mr. Carter's proposal promised to be a major obstacle -- appears to be lessening.

Any alternative international events must be approved by these federations or else participating athletes could be barred from future world competition.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation decided March 10 not to sanction any international track and field meeting at the same time as the Moscow Olympics. Council sources said athletes competing in any projected alternative track Olympics from July 19-Aug. 3 would face suspension from future events. The IAAF ruling did not specifically mention any international competition after the summer games.

Baaron Pittenger, who is coordinating the staff work on alternative events for the USOC, says that because the Carter administration now is proposing that the alternative games be held after the summer Olympic Games -- and not at the same time, as originally suggested -- federations like the IAAF are less adamant in their opposition. Even so, Mr. Pittenger warns, there is not likely to be a clear pattern of approval among the organizations, which are all independent bodies.


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