Olympic boycott divides globe

The next few weeks are expected to see a major effort by European and American sports leaders to find a compromise formula they hope will defuse the Moscow Olympics as a divisive political issue.

The national Olympic committees of 16 Western European countries meeting here over the weekend confirmed their desire to participate in the forthcoming Moscow Olympics. A declaration issued after the Brussels meeting emphasized that the Olympics were contests among individual athletes and not nations.

Some participants at the meeting said that protocol and ceremonial changes in the Moscow games might be sought to make them more acceptable to those who are hesitating on political grounds. The idea for a boycott was first raised by President Carter as one reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Most specifically, of the 16 national Olympic committees at the meeting, eight said they planned to attend the Moscow Olympics regardless of whether their gov ernments called for a boycott -- Britain, Sweden, Finland, France, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, and Spain. Seven others -- West Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Turkey, Liechtenstein, and San Marino -- still have to decide. And one, Norway, indicated it would go along with the boycott.

The positions being adopted by national governments also look like being at odds with one another and, often, with their own national committees. The US, British, and Netherlands governments have come out officially in favor of a boy cott of the Moscow Olympics. The West German government has said cautiously that it feels that conditions are not conducive to participation in the Moscow games, but has yet to declare itself in favor of the boycott. The remaining governments have avoided any commitment so far, but most of them appear to be in favor of letting their athletes attend.

At their Brussels meeting, the national Olympic committees firmly rejected the possibility of setting up alternative games. They expect to meet again in Rome next month to review the situation.

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