Too hot to handle -- that appears to be the verdict on two international track meets gone by the boards. The meets were to be hosted by the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania and would have showcased US and foreign athletes not headed for the Moscow Olympics.
Penn developed cold feet when it learned that the International Amateur Athletic Federation, track and field's world governing body, opposed the meet slated for July 22 and 23 at Philadelphia's FRanklin Field. The IAAF released a statement indicating that athletes who participated in the Penn meet would be ineligible for IAAF-approved international competitions.
Soon after the Penn meet folded, the Athletic Congress-USA, the new governing body for amateur track and field in this country, announced that it was writing off the Berkeley meet, scheduled for July 17 and 18, as well.
The congress had scheduled the meets so as not to coincide with the track and field events in Moscow, which begin July 19. The body also avoided referring to the competitions as "alternative Olympics," since that could only cause probv lems.
Whereas Penn withdrew its invitation rather than "rock any boats," Cal athletic director Dave Maggard was determined to forge ahead with plans to host the Berkely meet. There certainly was no lack of interest in the competition, which sold out 44,000 available seats in just 14 hours.
Ollan Cassell, director of the Athletics Congress, cited an "unfavorable climate" as the reason for canceling the meet. The Berkeley City Council had expressed concern about whether the community really wanted to assume the responsibilities, including those of security, the meet would entail. "I was more concerned about security when we had the Russians here for the meets in 1971 and 1978," said Maggard. "I never heard a word from City Council then."
Another obstacle would have been a potential black boycott of the meet organized by Cal-Berkeley professor Harry Edwards, who inspired the protest by black athletes at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
Some have also expressed doubt about the meeths ability to attract US athletes, many of whom would be in Oslo on July 15 competing in an Olympic Committee-sponsored European tour.