Olympics without flag-waving?

President Carter received something of a vote of confidence from the United States Olympic Committee. It picked up his deadline of Feb. 20 for using the Olympics as a means of retaliating against the Soviet Union if Russian troops do not get out of Afghanistan by that date.

The committee did not go so far as to promise joining in a boycott of the Moscow games if they go ahead as scheduled. But its executive board did vote with satisfying unanimity to call on the International Olympic Committee to move , postpone, or cancel the event if Moscow does not meet the deadline. We hope the heretofore recalcitrant international officials join in refusing to honor the invader with the games as if nothing had happened to spoil the party.

Yet, as the talk of boycotting the Moscow Olympics plunges the games further into politics, we look forward to some future day when they become a contest better suited to the inhabitants of a small planet. At Harvard the other night presidential candidate Jerry Brown got a student ovation when he suggested a concept that would be fitting: athletes competing as individuals without the carrying of national flags.

To be sure, countries can properly take pride in their athletes' accomplishments. But the competition is not really to amass gold medals for this or that state. It is at bottom a competition against human limitations, a competition between each athlete and himself or herself to see if today's record can't be better than yesterday's. No one has to wait for the future to appreciate the games in such a way.

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