Another Olympic year is upon us, while Soviet troops move south to invade yet another country. So what's new?
It happened in 1956 when Hungary was unwillingly involved as Olympic flags were raised at Melbourne, Australia. But let's not stop there. In 1968, Mexico City was the site of the Summer Olympics. That year Czechoslovakia had the misfortune while Olympians were speaking of international good will in the Mexican capital.
Now it's 1980 and the scene is Afghanistan where Russians are fighting rebel forces while Moscow is still planning on hosting the 1980 Summer Olympics. That leads one to ask if the Soviet capital will still host the summer games. The answer is as obvious as Russian imperialism throughout the world.... Yes, the Moscow games will take place. And that leads us upon yet another crucial question which is, should the United States boycott the summer games.
That is a question that has plagued Americans for the last couple months. Some say, "There is no place in the Olympics for politics. Let the games go on." Politics? Who mentioned politics? This is a war, an out right invasion of another country. Furthermore, we're still scared both physically and emotionally from the Vietnam conflict.
Maybe the West German delegate to the NATO Conference was correct last January when he suggested an international boycott of the summer games. He added, "If countries had boycotted in 1936 at Berlin we might have spared World War II." But we'll never know now, will we?
At that time, a Nazi madman named Adolf Hitler had brainwashed the German people into a radical frenzy. His goose necked disciples were on the march and he already begun his personal vendetta against German Jews, which offended and shocked the entire world.
Least of Hitler's offenses were his cries about German superiority and his actions against Jewish athletes. Thousands of Jewish sportsmen were banned from German sporting clubs, thus taking away their chance for Olympic glory under the German flag. At an Amateur Athletic Union meeting in November of 1933, the delegates decided to boycott the games unless Germany changed its attitude toward Jewish athletes. A letter was sent to German officials.
Later, the President of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage made a trip to Germany. He was so impressed by German hospitality and order, that he was convinced Germany was observing the spirit of the games. Brundage then urged the Olympic Committee to reverse their decision.
The 1936 games were held as scheduled. The United States competed and one of its black athletes, Jesse Owens, won four gold medals to become an immediate hero. Hitler snubbed him at all four medal ceremonies.
Then twenty years later international goodwill was devoured by a world in flames. In 1956, the Russians invaded Hungary, much similar to Afghanistan, at the invitation of a friendly neighbor. During the invasion athletes of the two countries mingled friendly on a ship crossing the Pacific Ocean.
The Hungarians had no idea of the invasion until they reached the Melbourne Olympics where they were greeted by immigrants waving Hungarian flags and emotionally singing their national anthem. Hungarians defected in flocks to Australia that year. The USSR and Hungary were matched in an early water polo match, which witnessed very bloody water.
In 1968 the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia just before the Mexico City Summer Olympic Games. Relations were so cold between the two countries they should have been the winter games instead.
So much for the past. Now it's 1980 and our nation is once again emotionally torn over the pros and cons of another political Catch 22 which is Team USA participating in the Moscow Games or staying home. It is a great tragedy to see our young U.S. athletes who have trained so hard over a four year span to be denied of their moment of Olympic glory. But Russia has to be stopped somehow. Maybe sports is a peaceful solution.
Like many others, I'm torn. However I favor a complete Olympic boycott, but I'm fearful this move may only set a precedent which could completely alter Olympic history. It's a crying shame this decision has to be at the expense of American athletes. Another four years is a long time away to decide to boycott and alter history or not to boycott.
Hey there. I'm Rick Coe and thanks for stumbling on to my blog which contains columns I wrote while working for the now defunct Kellogg Evening News which was located in Kellogg, Idaho.