While many nations friendly to the United States remain up in the air concerning participation in the Moscow Olympics, their top athletic officials are trying to defuse the US boycott effort by pushing hard for immediate reforms to do away with many political and nationalistic aspects of the games.
Representatives of 18 West European Olympic committees met recently and concluded that universal participation is still a desirable goal -- given certain conditions.
Before sending athletes to Moscow, these committees propose:
* Substituting the Olympic flag for the flags of participating delegations.
* Using only the Olympic anthem.
* Demanding that all Olympic speeches be free of political content.
* Stripping athletic apparent of all identifying marks other than badges of the national Olympic committees.
The IOC president, Lord Killanin, met with Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev this week and gained assurances that concessions would be made to scale down opening and closing ceremonies and do away with flags and anthems. Whether this will be enough to induce some of the still-uncommitted countries to compete should be known by next week in most cases, and no later than May 24, the deadline for entering the games. Ukrainians -- the forgotten Olympians
Lost in the general hubbub of last February's Lake Placid Olympics was a press conference held in the town hall directly across from the speed skating oval. Called by Smoloskyp, a Ukrainian human rights group based in North America, the conference questioned the suitability of holding the Olympics in Moscow. Besides advocating a boycott of the games, the organizers dug up an old bone -- their disgruntlement with Soviet colonialism in sport.
Basically, Smoloskyp believes the Ukraine, a nation of 50 million people and a member of the United Nations, should participate in the Olympics as an independent state. The Russian-dominated USSR Olympic Committee and the Soviet government supposedly prevent this, leading many to identify Ukrainian athletes mistakenly as Russians. Making this situation even harder to swallow is the presence in the Olympics of Monaco and Liechtenstein, non-UN countries; dependent colonies such as Bermuda and Hong Kong; and the territory of Puerto Rico, which is officially designated as a commonwealth associated with the United States.
Vladislav Tretiak, starting goalkeeper on the Soviet Olympic hockey team, was perhaps the best-known Ukrainian athlete at the Lake Placid Olympics. His fame in the Western world was forged during Soviet confrontations with National Hockey League all-star contingents.
Against the United States at the Olympics, he was replaced by Vladimir Myshkin at the conclusion of the first period, after allowing the goal that tied the game at 2-2. The Americans went on to record a 4-3 upset victory as Tretiak remained on the bench.