A threat by some Black athletes in the United States Olympic team to boycott the Olympic Games in protest against Rhodesian participation could produce a major crisis for the International Olympic Committee just a week before the opening of the Games on August 26.
SV U.S. athletes off buses at Olympic Village (3 shots)
SCU Bobby Lewis, U.S. Olympic boxing coach speaking...
MV & CU Protesting athletes resting in Olympic Village (4 shots)
SV & SCU Black African athletes in Olympic Village (3 shots)
GV PAN..Rhodesian athletes working out (2 shots)
CU Rhodesian athletes seated in stadium stands (2 shots)
REPORTER: "Members of the U.S. Olympic team arrived at the Olympic Village at midnight last night and were surprised by news that some Black Americans already in the village were threatening to boycott the Games if Black Africans boycott. Some of the newly arrived Americans didn't agree. Among them, boxing coach Bobby Lewis."
LEWIS: "We're are here to do one thing; to box in the competition. We didn't come here for politics. I came here to do what? Compete against other countries, and represent the United States. I don't care what the rest of them do. They do what they want to do. As far as I'm concerned, I'm speaking for the eleven that I brought. Out of the eleven the majority is Black... they will fight. I'm the head coach and I'm Black and I will be in the ring. I don't care what the rest of them do. Okey?"
REPORTER: "The eighteen Black Americans who started the boycott threat relaxed Friday night at a lounge in the Olympic Village. They refused to say anything beyond their two sentence written statements denouncing Rhodesia and pledging unity with their Black African brothers. In reality, Black African athletes in Olympic Village did not seem so adamant as the more militant Americans. Without official instructions from their governments they depended on word of mouth for news. Most seemed to hope a solution could be found so they could be able to stay and compete.
Ironically a majority of Rhodesia's track and field delegation is black, although the whole team is predominantly white. Both Blacks and Whites expressed bewilderment at being caught in the middle of an international controversy. They said all they wanted to do was participate; they hoped they would not be thrown out. The fight moves now to the Olympic Committee. If no compromise is found the summer games could be in serious trouble. Robert Hager, NBC NEWS in Vienna."
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Background: A threat by some Black athletes in the United States Olympic team to boycott the Olympic Games in protest against Rhodesian participation could produce a major crisis for the International Olympic Committee just a week before the opening of the Games on August 26.
The statement made by eighteen leading U.S. athletes said that they would take a united stand with their African brothers if Rhodesia were allowed to take part. This brings to fifteen the number of nations - mostly black African and Arab - which have in some way indicated they will not compete with the Rhodesians.
When the captain of the U.S. boxing team arrived early Friday morning (18 August) he said that all members of his team - most of them black - would be taking part in Olympic competition.
Robert Hager of NBC News gives this report. An alternative commentary is also supplied.