OLYMPICS; The anthemless option

Despite efforts to keep political blinders on, the International Olympic Committee is beginning to worry about the impact politics may have on the Moscow games. Commenting on the decision by the West German and Canadian governments to urge their athletes to stay home, Lord Killanin, the IOC president, said, "I think it could lead to a chain reaction. It would be untruthful if I said I was not worried."

Where once the committee looked right past the possibility of a massive boycott with a "full steam ahead" attitude, it is now assuming a more accomodating stance in hopes of averting crisis. "There is a very great danger of splitting the Olympics into two or three parts," Lord Killanin said.

Earlier this week, he indicated that the committee would not insist on the use of national flags and anthems during the games. This might help to prevent participation in Moscow from appearing as tacit approval of Soviet policies. Athletes also will be allowed to sit out the opening and closing ceremonies. These decisions, the IOC hopes, will give national Olympic committees more leverage with their respective governments.

There's even some talk that the IOC, in an about-face, might be willing to let individual athletes compete instead of insisting that they enter as representatives of a national Olympic committee.

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