SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
December 17, 1984
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December 17, 1984


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The International Olympic Committee's frustration is showing. Two weeks ago the IOC held a special meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland to see what it could do about preventing future boycotts of the Games. It wound up doing next to nothing. Not only that, but IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch conceded that if relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union don't improve by 1988, he's sure that the Olympic movement will once again have "difficulties." Noting that the governments of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were responsible for the boycotts that damaged the Summer Games in 1980 and 1984, Samaranch concluded, with an air of discovery, "The world is ruled by politicians."

The IOC at first kicked around the idea, which was supported by the Americans among others, of imposing strong sanctions on boycotting countries by banning them from participating in one or more subsequent Olympics. But that action was ultimately rejected in the belief that it would only punish the athletes. Instead, the IOC merely decreed that national Olympic officials of countries that boycott wouldn't be accredited to attend the boycotted Games. Moreover, efforts would be made to persuade international sports federations to prohibit citizens of boycotting countries from serving as judges and referees at those Games.

The IOC shouldn't have bothered. For one thing, many national Olympic committee officials are also IOC members and would be accredited as such—a rather significant loophole in the new sanction. As for other Olympic officials of boycotting nations, if they wish to attend the Games, they presumably can do so simply by buying tickets. Besides, if governments are the ones calling the shots, as Samaranch said, it makes no more sense to punish Olympic officials of the offending nations than it does their athletes. Banning judges and referees would only compound the injustice and, not incidentally, further diminish the quality of the Games.

The best you can say for the watered-down sanction adopted by the IOC is that it's an expression of how strongly the organization feels about boycotts. But the measure also symbolizes something else: the IOC's impotence in insulating the Olympics from the political realities of the world.


If you don't think Doug Flutie had the Heisman Trophy locked up long before the big Dec. 1 announcement at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York, you should have overheard a conversation a few days earlier at the Abbey Tavern in Manhattan. A member of the club's Heisman committee was having a beer and shooting the breeze with Mike Jewell, the bartender. The committeeman rhapsodized about Flutie's heroics during the thrilling Boston College- Miami game the previous week, but when Jewell asked who was going to win the trophy, the club man clammed up. "Oh, I can't tell you that," he said. "That's a secret. But I can tell you which players we've invited to the ceremony. There's Flutie, of course. And, let's see now, there's uh, um...that kid he played against. Uh...."

"Kosar?" the bartender suggested.

"Yeah, yeah, Kosar. And there's one more. He's, uh, a running back. From, um, the Midwest somewhere."

"Byars, Ohio State?"

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