White House Briefing on the 1980 Summer Olympics
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's National Security Adviser, explains to Olympic athletes why the United States must boycott the Olympic games in Moscow. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is the main issue; Brzezinski explains that the invasion has wider international and strategic implications because of Afghanistan's role as a buffer state. He explains that the Soviets, by controlling Afghanistan, have widened their area of operation and influence to include neighboring nations. He also accuses the Soviets of using toxic (chemical) weapons. He goes on to give a recent history of changes in the Afghani government and states that there is widespread condemnation of the Soviet position. He lists other measures taken: a grain embargo, restrictions on technology transfer, limits on trade, and enhancement of the United States military presence. Brzezinski states that sports cannot be separated from politics and that the US does not object to the Olympics themselves; they object to the site where they are being held. During the question-and-answer period, a boxer pledges the support of his fellow boxers and asks why the US does not break more completely with the Soviet Union. Other questions address which other countries will participate in the boycott, the leadership role of the US, compensation for American athletes who will not be titled Olympians, tactical support for Pakistan and other nations in the region, the fact that the Soviet Union is unlikely to reverse its position, the impact of US actions on the Soviet Union, and the impact of the boycott on future Olympic athletes. Joseph Onek then begins describing plans for an alternate international competition after the Olympics.