265. Telegram From the Department of State to All Diplomatic and Consular Posts1

56102. Subject: Summer Olympics: Update on National Reactions. Ref: State 042913.2

1. (Confidential-entire text)

[Page 764]

2. Following is update of reftel. As before, this information should be used with extreme discretion so as not to embarrass governments whose positions are private or still evolving favorably.

3. Our count on non-participants for the Moscow Olympics stands about where it was two weeks ago. Some 50 states will join us and not participate in the Moscow Games this summer. Support for non-participation continues to be strongest in East Asia and the Near East. In Western Europe as well as in Africa and Latin America, we have seen a growing tendency to hold off a decision in the expectation that the Afghanistan situation will improve in the next 60–90 days. Nonetheless our assumption continues to be that in the final analysis the West Europeans will join us in boycotting Moscow and that a number of additional African and Latin Americans will follow suit. As a consequence the Games themselves, if they are held at all, will be a pale imitation of previous Olympics.

4. We are publicly committed to holding high-quality international athletic competition later this summer. We hope that details for the alternative games can be developed and agreed to between March 15 and 31. Most American sports federations (called national governing bodies) we have spoken to would be interested in participating in these alternative competitions. Few of these groups favor the idea of a domestic sports festival, a concept recommended by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

5. The U.S. Olympic Committee, although it has given an informal pledge of support to the President, has technically not yet reached a formal decision on the Moscow Games. The Executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee will meet together on March 15 and draw up a resolution recommending non-participation. This resolution will then be sent to all members of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s House of Delegates which will be convened in mid-April to vote on the recommendation.

6. A number of important meetings at which the Olympics issue will be on the agenda are planned for the near future. The British Olympic Association meets on the Olympic issue on March 4. The Japanese Olympic Committee holds a similar meeting on March 7. The Olympic question will be on the agenda of the Andean Pact Foreign Ministers Meeting in Quito March 10. The Olympic subject will also be discussed at the forthcoming African Football Confederation Meeting in Lagos. We have asked all posts to keep us informed as far in advance as possible of meetings at which the Olympic issue could be discussed.

7. Twenty-six governments have publicly stated that they do not wish their athletes to participate in the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow: Australia, Bahrain, Bermuda, Canada, Chile, Djibouti, Egypt, Fiji, Great Britain, Haiti, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Luxembourg, [Page 765] Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, People’s Republic of China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Zaire.

8. Privately working toward non-participation are 14 governments: Bangladesh, Gabon, Gambia, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Monaco, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Singapore, Somalia, South Korea, Swaziland.

9. The following 8 governments have informed us that they will not be participating in the Moscow Olympics because of lack of resources, lack of a team; or other reasons. British Honduras, Chad, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Malawi, St. Vincent, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates.

10. Leaning or evolving toward non-participation in Moscow are 21 governments: Belgium, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, FRG, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Switzerland.

11. Finally, 26 governments are still undecided: Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Cape Verde, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Rwanda, San Marino, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sao Tome and Principe, Tanzania, Turkey, Uganda, Upper Volta, Uruguay, Venezuela.

12. Others are either unheard from, leaning against our position, or have decided to proceed to Moscow.

13. Addressees may as they deem it advisable use list contained in para 7 on an unclassified basis. Lists in the subsequent para-graph should be discussed only with extreme discretion with host government.3

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, Olympics in Moscow, Box 21, 2/29/80–3/10/80. Confidential; Sensitive; Immediate. Sent for information Immediate to the White House for Cutler and Brement. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Marie T. Huhtala (S/OL); cleared in substance by Jeffrey C. Gallup (EUR/RPM), Donald K. Bandler (AF/I), Leta McNutt (EA/RA), George E. Brown (ARA/PPC), P. Dodd (NEA/RA), and Bremer; cleared by Jane E. Taylor (S/S–O); approved by Nelson Ledsky (S/OL). (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800107–1241)
  2. In telegram 42913 to all diplomatic posts, February 16, the Department outlined the progress made in getting other countries to protest the Moscow Olympic games and commit to participating in alternative games. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800084–0211)
  3. Carter wrote about the Olympics in his memoirs: “We had to struggle all the way; the outcome was always in doubt. Most Olympic committees were wholly independent bodies, whose members deeply resented any government involvement in their decisions. Nevertheless, in television interviews, speeches, and through direct appeals during their official meetings, I and many other national leaders pointed out that it would be a violation of Olympic principles of good sportsmanship and fair play to be guests of the Soviet Union under existing circumstances. After a heated debate, the United States Committee, on April 22, decided by an overwhelming vote not to send a team to Moscow; eventually fifty-five nations made the same decision. A few others merely sent token groups or allowed individuals to go to Moscow on their own.” (Keeping Faith, p. 526)