US vs. Olympics: over to Killanin

America's withdrawal from the Moscow Olympics appears imminent. Bowing to President Carter's stand that American athletes should stay home this summer if Soviet troops remain in Afghanistan, the United States Olympic Committee voted unanimously Saturday to ask the International Olympic Committee to move the games from Moscow, or to postpone or cancel them.

The next move in the growing international tug of war now belings to the normally uncompromising international panel, whose president, Lord Killanin, has said the Afghan invasion does not violate the Olympic charter. But even in agreeing to back President Carter's proposal, the US group said it opposed an all-out boycott. Its president, Robert Kane, said, "The word boycott has an unfriendly, hostile meaning that we do not accept at all."

There is a provision in the Olympic charter for declining to enter a team. Such a move would likely produce a milder reprimand of the US committee by the international panel than would a full-fledged American- led boycott.

White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler said some 30 other nations, including Britain, New Zealand, and Australia as well as numerous third world countries, were ready to back the United States in a possible boycott. Japan will decide in mid-February whether to boycott the games.

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