The Olympic Movement is a 20th-century religion. Here there is no injustice of caste, of race, of family, of wealth....
The Olympic Movement appears as a ray of sunshine through clouds of racial animosity, religious bigotry and political chicanery....
The Olympic Movement today is perhaps the greatest social force in the world. It is a revolt against 20th-century materialism—a devotion to the cause and not to the reward....
—FROM THE SPEECHES OF AVERY BRUNDAGE
The scene is the Holiday Inn, Luxembourg, on an afternoon last fall. The International Olympic Committee is in convention there and the members are about to leave the hotel for a film screening downtown, which will begin at 4 p.m. sharp. It is not so far away, but one must use the available conveyance—an army bus, courtesy of the Luxembourg government. Many members of the IOC climb aboard the bus: the sheikh from Lebanon, the rajah from India, the baron from Spain and, eventually, exiled King Constantine of Greece. When the bus rumbles off, it is about 3:30 p.m.
July 23, 1972
At 3:40 p.m. a sports car pulls up to the front of the Holiday Inn and Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg slides into the driver's seat. He waits for a motorcycle policeman to precede him, and then drives off to the screening.
Now it is after 3:50 p.m., and time is very short. A chauffeured limousine is waiting at the Holiday Inn, its motor idling almost inaudibly. There is a dignified flurry at the front entrance and Avery Brundage, president of the IOC for 20 years, emerges alone and enters the limousine. It is 3:55 p.m. and it will require a very quick, very direct route to make it to the screening room in time. But then four motorcycle policemen wheel into place, one at each fender. Their sirens shriek and Avery Brundage pulls away. He has time to spare, for he is traveling in the style to which he has become accustomed.
Avery Brundage is 84 now, but he has kept his spine straight, his stomach flat, his handshake dry and powerful. He moves with the briskness and authority of a man with a clear conscience, convinced of his blessings. There is often something close to radiance in his face.
Perhaps the kind of zeal and moral fiber that characterizes Avery Brundage is summarized best by his remarks about his own favorite sport—heel-and-toe walking: "That was a beautiful event. And I excelled in it. It puts an enormous strain on nearly every muscle in the body. It is the closest a man can come to the pangs of childbirth."
Though there is still much vigor in Avery Brundage, it does not always flow in a strong, steady current. His voice is clear at times, but then it will fade slowly, slowly, as if it were a deep color being gradually bleached. At such times, it sounds as if it comes from a place much farther away than that where Avery Brundage is sitting. And sometimes his voice simply stops and there is silence. The eyes of Avery Brundage seem fixed behind his spectacles; there is even a suspicion of tears. But then he will blink and begin to speak again. Usually he picks up precisely where he left off. But sometimes he will begin to speak about something quite new.
Avery Brundage is worth about $25 million. It is said that he spends $50,000 of his own money each year in pursuit of his obligations to the Olympic Games. One does not ask him about money matters because it would be unmannerly. However, he once volunteered: "You didn't have to be a wizard to make a fortune in the Depression. All you had to do was buy stocks and bonds in depressed corporations for a few cents on the dollar and then wait."
Avery Brundage started poor. He was born in 1887 in Detroit and his father walked out when he was very young. He sold newspapers to help his mother buy bread. He worked his way through the University of Illinois, graduating in the class of '09. He was a big man on campus: a track star, a fraternity leader, a writer for the literary magazine The Scribbler. One of his contributions was entitled The Football Field as a Sifter of Men: "No better place than a football field could be chosen to test out a man.... Here a fellow is stripped of most of the finer little things contributed by ages of civilization and his virgin nature is exposed to the hot fire of battle. It is man against man, and there is no more thorough mode of exposing one's true self...."
Avery Brundage's own virgin nature was exposed to an assortment of sports that made football seem almost effete. Although heel-and-toe walking, the discus and the shotput were his specialties, he became a devotee of the tortures of the pentathlon, decathlon and, most excruciating of all, what he fondly calls "the old American All-Around."
This is a series of 10 events—100-yard dash, high jump, shotput, high hurdles, broad jump, pole vault, 56-pound weight throw, 880-yard walk, hammer throw and mile run. All of them are performed in a single afternoon with no more than five minutes rest between each. In 1914, when he was 26, Brundage won the U.S. Championship in the American All-Around; he did it again in 1916 and again in 1918 and he was canonized by sportswriters as "The Greatest Athlete of the Day" and "The Champion of Champions." Of course, nothing Brundage did—or could do—equaled the feats of his contemporary, Jim Thorpe. In Brundage's only Olympic competition, in 1912, he entered the pentathlon, in which he finished fifth, and the decathlon, in which he completed but eight events and wound up 15th. Thorpe won gold medals in both contests.
Brundage had nothing to do with Thorpe's subsequent disqualification and the forfeiture of his medals for professionalism. Yet, years later, when Thorpe was a drunk, sentimental sportswriters would periodically plead with Brundage, then the head of the USOC and the AAU, to bend the rules so the Indian could have his medals back. Brundage stood firm. "Thorpe was the greatest athlete of our time," he said. "Why does he need medals to prove it?"
The source of Brundage's wealth is the Avery Brundage Company, a construction firm he founded to take advantage of a building boom in Chicago in the '20s. He owned or put up many edifices on the Gold Coast or in the Loop, including the LaSalle Hotel. He no longer owns the LaSalle, but his office is in a three-room suite on the 18th floor. The office has two windows, darkly draped, looking out on parking-ramp roofs, chimneys and neon signs. The room is small, the carpet is worn. Brundage has an invaluable collection of Oriental art, which is housed in the Center of Asian Art and Culture in San Francisco, but on the walls of his office there are but two posters advertising the 1972 Olympics.
The place is so unprepossessing that one cannot help but think that if the desks were removed, the bookcases taken out and the Olympic posters torn off, this would be a hotel room with a brown metal bed and a traveling salesman from Mason City stretched out on it with his shoes on.
Avery Brundage is a self-made man, and his brand of ethics and his range of judgments have their roots in an impatience with anything that is not useful, negotiable or profitable. In the course of time, Brundage has said:
"I'm a 110% American and an old-fashioned Republican. People like me haven't had anybody to vote for since Hoover and Coolidge."
"You know, the ancient Greeks kept women out of their athletic games. They wouldn't even let them on the sidelines. I'm not so sure but what they were right."
"I have never known or heard of a single athlete who was too poor to participate in the Olympic Games."
"If in certain countries there are people who are too poor to play, which is doubtful, let the government raise their standards of living until they have some leisure time instead of asking us to lower our amateur standards. After all, we of amateur sport cannot be expected to reconstruct society."
"Sport is a pastime and a diversion—it is play; and play, according to the dictionary, is action for amusement—opposed to work—free, spontaneous, joyous—for recreation. The minute it becomes any more than this, it is business or work, not sport. Sport is purely incidental and should not be allowed to interfere with the main business of life. It is an avocation, and not a vocation."
Brundage dismisses professional sports: "They are not sports at all but a segment of the entertainment game—Show Biz, you'd call 'em." And he is convinced that the U.S. is in some more or less final stage of decadence because it no longer reveres the amateur.
Not long ago, as a murky Chicago twilight filled the windows of his office, Avery Brundage said sadly: "The word amateur is misused in the United States. We say that an amateur is somebody who is not good enough to be a professional. That is absurd, but it says more about this country than anything else I can think of...."
SEARCH FOR THE CARP LIKE A RABBIT
Avery Brundage won a libel suit in France in 1959 and he said it was a "great victory for amateurism." André Chassaignon, an assistant editor of the magazine Miroir des Sports, penned a vitriolic column entitled The Olympic Flag Is the Symbol of a Lie, that shocked even Brundage's bitterest foes.
"The man who delivers the Olympic oath in Rome in 1960 will lie in the name of every athlete in the world," he wrote, "[because] nearly all of the so-called Olympic 'amateurs' in the world today are not amateurs at all, but hypocritical professionals!
"Do you recall the charming tale of Gorneflot, the hero of a novel by Alexandre Dumas who, during Lent, bought a "rabbit and had it baptized a carp so he wouldn't break the rules of abstinence? Rabbits baptized as carp or professionals camouflaged as amateurs—it's all the same. Monsieur Brundage plays the role of Gorneflot. He sits down at his table before a rabbit stew and says, 'My, what a delicious carp.' "
Brundage filed suit for defamation of character and won his case. The judge ordered both Chassaignon and the magazine to pay 100,000 old francs—about $200—in damages. For a long time, Brundage had a one-franc note from the settlement framed in his office.
His language may have been intemperate, but Chassaignon was nevertheless far from wrong about the state of amateurism among Olympians. It rarely (and probably never) exists in a pure Brundagian state. It requires great sour portions of hypocrisy to keep the whole charade from crashing down.
Listen to four Olympians:
Michel Jazy, 36, of Paris is a flamboyant fellow who tools around in a white Mercedes and dresses in sports clothes he designs himself. He is a publicity man for Perrier mineral water and for Le Coq Sportif and he broadcasts for Radio Luxembourg. He is blond, very handsome and the crowd loved him even though he did not place in the 1,500-meter run in 1956 and won only a silver medal in 1960. Jazy says, "I did not run only for money. No, I would have run without pay. But, yes, I was a professional like everybody else. In America, your professionals go to college for scholarships. In the Eastern countries they are in the military. In Scandinavia they are firemen. Of course, the money I received was not much. If I had been making much, I would not have retired from running at the age of 30."
Don Schollander, 26, a Yale graduate who won five gold medals and a silver in swimming in 1964 and 1968. He is polished, intelligent, a vice-president of a firm that manufactures timing devices and one of the athlete members of the USOC. "Avery Brundage is the last surviving amateur," Schollander says. "I did not have a scholarship at Yale, but I certainly could not qualify as an amateur. I trained far more than the rules allowed. The only sensible thing is to open the Olympics to everyone. You'd have to control it carefully—I mean, you couldn't have a guy win the gold medal for the 100 meters, then step off the platform and say, 'I drink Gilbey's Gin, you all go out and buy it, too.' You couldn't have guys running races in their Sears, Roebuck shirts like some bowling team. But why not have professionals in the Olympics? We've found no viable way of controlling amateurism, so let's stop pretending."
Harold and Olga Connolly were married in 1957, he a schoolteacher from Boston, she the daughter of factory workers from Libish, near Prague. They had met at the Melbourne Olympics where each won a gold medal, and they wooed and won each other in an East-West romance that made headlines throughout the world.
Although Harold is 40 and Olga 39 and they have four children, the Connollys were in training last summer for yet another Games, their fifth—he to throw the hammer, she the discus. It was not easy. They are naught but a schoolteacher and his wife, struggling with almost painful good cheer through these lean years as he works for his master's.
Sitting in the living room of their rented bungalow in Culver City, Calif. last July, Olga said, "We love the Games and we are trying to go once more because we have so many friends, not for medals. We are so at home there. We want to go and help others break the ice so they can become friends."
The Connollys were going out for dinner, but Hal wolfed down two hot dogs, then said, "Sorry, but I'm trying to put on 40 pounds. I compete best when I'm around 250. Either I gain it or we don't go. We made a promise to each other that if one doesn't make the team, the other won't go. If we both make it, the kids are going with us—somehow." (As it turned out, only Olga made the team and the promise was amended. "She deserves to go," said Hal, who will take the kids camping while his wife is throwing the discus in Munich.)
Later, in a Beverly Hills restaurant, Olga looked around admiringly. "This is our first dinner out in 15 months," she said. "We have to save our money to keep training." Over great slabs of prime rib, they talked about the paradox of amateurism. They related how they had written an article for the Associated Press entitled "Why Amateurism Is Dead in the Olympics." When they received a check, they donated the money to a Mexican orphanage because they wanted to protect their status as, well, amateurs.
Hal: I wouldn't want to be paid for my athletics. If you were paid they'd ship you around like so much cattle. But I'm not against some sort of subsidization.
Olga: Government subsidy would be a good thing. It's anathema to the USOC, but its whole attitude toward athletes is so foolish and so insulting that this is only one facet of its wrong thinking.
Hal: You know, our guys are competing in Europe this summer so they can make enough money to help them train next year for the Games. They'll bring home anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 from a summer on the European circuit. The fact is, under Rule 26 [the IOC rule defining Olympic eligibility] I don't know any amateur.
Olga: We don't want charity, but it is so foolish now. Bill Schroeder, who runs the Helms hall of fame, had a very funny idea—except maybe it's not so funny. He said there's only one way to have a U.S. Olympic camp and that's to have the whole team spend two or three hours a day in a U.S. Olympic cannery. You see? We'd spend our time growing our own strawberries, then can them and sell them and call them American Jam and then we could afford a training camp and everyone could be honest.
MORE ABOUT CARP AND RABBITS
The notion that amateurism is in that much of a jam probably has not occurred to any of the 74 members of the IOC. Although the IOC lays down all rules, policies, bylaws and eligibility procedures for the Olympics, its members often have the air of just having come down from some elegant attic. The IOC is the most exclusive, blue-ribboned and blue-blooded organization in the world, utterly self-perpetuating and accustomed to operating in total privacy.
"If you took a poll, you'd find the favorite sports of the IOC are yachting, fencing and equestrian, the high society sports," says Arthur G. Lentz, executive director of the USOC. "They are not athletes, as a rule." Nor are they men likely to know many athletes, at least modern athletes.
Avery Brundage presides. His three executive vice-presidents are: the ebullient Lord Killanin, 58, of Ireland, who was once a journalist for the London Daily Mail; the self-effacing Jonkheer Herman van Karnebeek, 68, of The Netherlands, a board member of Esso Netherlands and of Heineken Breweries; and the suave, black-haired Count Jean de Beaumont, 68, of France, whose family dates to the first Crusade and whose financial holdings in Rivaud and Co. (his father-in-law's firm) make him one of his country's wealthiest men.
A sampling of the remaining members:
Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, 66, of Nigeria, is the eldest child of His Highness Ademola, Yorubaland's wealthiest and most influential ruler. Sir Adetokunbo was the first Nigerian to serve as a chief justice.
Hadj Mohamed Benjelloun, 60, of Morocco, is enormously rich because his father owned 60 acres of real estate that became the center of Casablanca.
Syed Wajid Ali, 60, of Pakistan, is chairman of two companies, managing director of a third, executive director of a fourth and a director of three others.
Sheikh Gabriel Gemayel, 65, of Lebanon, is a pharmacist by trade, but perhaps not by necessity. Each summer he moves from his winter town house to his summer house, a 500-year-old palace in the mountain area of Bikfaya.
There are many other titled men on the IOC: King Constantine, 32; Grand Duke Jean, 51; Spain's Baron Pedro de Ybarra y Mac-Mahon, 59; Indonesia's Hamengku Buwono IX, the Sultan of Jogjakarta, 60; Prince Gholam Reza Pahlavi of Iran, 49; Japan's Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda, 63. The only members of the IOC who have won Olympic medals are King Constantine, who received a gold medal in yachting in 1960: Masaji Kyokawa of Japan, who won gold and bronze medals in the 100-meter backstroke in 1932 and '36: Brigadier General Sven Thofelt of Sweden, who won a gold in the modern pentathlon in 1928: and the 6th Marquess of Exeter, the former Lord Burghley, who won a gold in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 1928 and a silver in the 1,600-meter relay in 1932. A good-humored chap, the marquess has been troubled in recent years by an arthritic hip. Not long ago his artificial hip joint was replaced and he had the old one mounted on the hood of his Rolls-Royce.
But the majority of IOC members are simply wealthy capitalists—that is, not counting half a dozen fellows from the Iron Curtain countries.
However exotic their backgrounds, when members of the IOC get together they resemble a freshly barbered assembly of wealthy Masons from Ypsilanti, Mich. Thus, Douglas Fergusson Roby, 74, a wealthy Mason from Ypsilanti, Mich., fits in nicely among the dukes and rajahs. The only American member besides Brundage, Roby has said, "Some of my best friends are on the committee. It's the bluest-blooded club in the world, but they're good guys. There's no selfishness. They're not like business associates are sometimes." Roby made his money as a salesman and, later, as board chairman of American Metal Products Co.
Of the restricted and undemocratic modus operandi within the IOC, Roby said, "We just can't get into the mess of democratizing the committee. It would get completely out of hand. We only want the kind of members who will follow our principles. To be a member you have to have spare time and some money and an amateur-sports background. You can't be, say, president of the New York Yankees and belong. That wouldn't do."
THE ULTIMATE OLYMPIC SPORT: GETTING THE GAMES
It is said by reliable Washington sources that the events surrounding the IOC's selection of a host city for 1976 cost Avery Brundage the Presidential Medal of Freedom, this nation's highest civilian award. Avery Brundage has received enough decorations from other countries to cover the chest of an even larger man, but in the U.S. he has more or less had to settle for the Order of Lincoln from the state of Illinois. Brundage was believed to be in line for the Medal of Freedom until Los Angeles lost its bid, and a reliable source says, "It'll be a damn cold day now if Nixon pins anything on Brundage. The man simply shot down his own country."
Avery Brundage shot down his country? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Whatever the truth, the facts that are known are testimony to how astonishingly far the Olympics have come from the time a Greek cotton merchant had to get up the drachmas to pay for the stadium for the 1896 fun and Games.
The campaigns by the three cities under principal consideration for the 1976 honors—L.A., Montreal and Moscow—were diverse and cunning, involving, in various degrees, muscle, diplomatic cajolery, public-relations pressures and sentimentality. In Moscow, for example, the Russians pressed their bid with that old gimmick of the Western World—a press conference and cocktail party. The chief architect of Moscow appeared, as did several government ministers, lots of Soviet athletes and Mayor Vladimir Promyslov who said his city was prepared to spend more than $200 million on the Games. Each correspondent was given a photograph album of Moscow and a record of Muscovite songs. The minister of communications promised that the Iron Curtain would allow full and free transmission of news copy, and the minister of culture, Mme. Yekaterina Furtseva, her blonde curls bobbing, pleaded openly with the reporters for "favorable propaganda."
Montreal was almost entirely dependent on the wiles of its mayor, Jean Drapeau, who had produced Expo '67. Though Expo was an esthetic success, it was a financial failure and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said that the government would not provide one federal cent for the Olympics. But Drapeau kept up a barrage of brochures to IOC members and he entertained many of them in Montreal. When he appeared to make his final sales pitch before the IOC's annual meeting in Amsterdam in May 1970, he was faced with an embarrassing question: Would Montreal put up a financial guarantee for the Games? Drapeau replied: "The history of Montreal is our guarantee. It is a history of meeting and beating challenges. That is our guarantee. If there is any doubt you have about Montreal, then...do...not...choose...us."
By this time the U.S. campaign had been in high gear for about three years. The Los Angeles group was chaired by Mayor Sam Yorty and included local politicians and Southern California businessmen. The operational leader was John B. (Jim) Kilroy, 50, who is said to have made millions in real estate developments.
One radiant afternoon last summer, Kilroy arrived for a luncheon interview at the California Yacht Club at the Marina del Rey in Los Angeles. The club is a cool and swanky place, the walls almost all windows, the better to look out on sparkling water, sun-washed docks and acres of varnished decks and bobbing masts. Kilroy fitted the setting; he is tall, lean and athletic and his dark tan contrasted splendidly with his white hair and, particularly, with his white teeth. He seemed much at ease, walking lightly and flashing his smile at people he recognized. He wore a blue shirt with KIALOA II stitched on the pocket. Kilroy had just flown in from Honolulu. The day before, Kialoa II, his 73-foot aluminum sloop, had been the sixth boat to finish in the Trans-Pac race.
The bartender said, "We heard it on the radio, Mr. Kilroy. Nice race." Kilroy shook his head and said, "No, there's only one place to finish in a race. First." The smile appeared briefly, tightly, against the tan. He sat down and ordered a draft beer and a shrimp salad. And then, in a deep and pleasant voice, he began the bizarre and disappointing saga of his involvement with the Olympic Games of 1976.
"We decided to take a hardnosed businessman's approach to our bid. All of us on the committee felt that business can do it better than government. So we laid our concept on the assumption that the Games would never put a burden on the taxpayers. I understand how taxpayers feel. You might say I'm a professional taxpayer with all I've contributed over the years."
He smiled fleetingly, and ran over some figures which he seemed to have memorized. He said that projections indicated that the Olympics in Los Angeles would be virtually cost-free since most of the facilities already existed. All things added in, a 1976 Olympics in California could make a profit of more than $1 million. In its campaign to get the Games, the committee spent $314,000, he said, but he emphasized that this total did not include many, many dollars worth of donations of corporate planes and pilots, personal payments of travel costs of the time of junior executives and secretaries assigned to work on the project. "I have been told that Denver spent over $1 million to get the 1976 Winter Games," he said.
"I got into this thing in 1967 when Sam Yorty suggested we look into it. It was all Sam's idea, you know—not Washington's. Our campaign was under way during the Games in Mexico City. Our committee was there and every day we'd have an 8 a.m. breakfast planning session, setting up who was going to work on which delegation, who'd have lunch with the Japanese, who'd have a drink with the Nigerians. We had air ferries to Acapulco for IOC members—we'd been given the use of some Hughes Aircraft planes and pilots. We had one large reception in Mexico and I guess three, four hundred people came. Then, afterward, we had some IOC people up to see Disneyland and some of the movie sets in Hollywood.
"We had no Federal Government help in any of this, not in transportation, or hospitality or in printing. We had a great brochure finally and a movie that cost us $37,000. We had about 5,000 brochures printed and we sent one to every state and federal elected official in the United States—assemblymen, state senators, congressmen. We mailed each IOC member one copy and we sent one of our own envoys from the committee to hand-deliver another copy.
"In the beginning, we had Montreal going against us and a couple of other so-called competitors—Florence, Italy, was one. The Russians weren't in then. We were really sailing along. All systems were go.
"President Nixon sent a personal letter to every member of the IOC, guaranteeing that L.A. had the backing of the U.S. Government in bidding for the Games. Oh, the White House was very involved in our campaign. We never brought up Nixon's name because we thought everyone would accuse him of just doing it for publicity purposes. But he was with us—believe me, he was.
"We went to the President at one point and told him our problems and he very generously gave us—full time—a man from the State Department and one of Henry Kissinger's men to help in our checking around the world.
"We had access to intelligence on how the votes were going. It came from our embassies all over the world. Whenever we needed any input from them, all we had to do was ask, and they would give us a head count. At our suggestion the State Department sent American coaches to Africa to hold symposiums and clinics. We had people all over the world those last months."
Many U.S. athletes have been critical of the L.A. '76 campaign, saying that it might have been successful if there had been some Olympians included in the sales force, such as Jesse Owens. Kilroy scoffed at this. He said, "Now what would an athlete have done with those IOC members? Jesse can't sit down with people like King Constantine and talk with the kind of men who are on the IOC. No, we had the right people."
Kilroy then recounted how Moscow had entered the competition late in 1969 and how Montreal stayed in regardless of its troubles raising money. "There was a kind of dress-rehearsal presentation before several sports federations in Munich early in the winter of 1970. We were told that Montreal fell on its face and that Moscow had no feel for making that kind of presentation."
Thus, the American delegation was very confident when the crucial IOC meetings began in Amsterdam on May 9, 1970.
"Our input indicated," Kilroy explained, "that we had 36 votes on the first ballot for sure. We counted the Soviet bloc with 27 votes and the Commonwealth bloc with seven. But the timing was not the best for our bid and the White House was worried. There was the Cambodian problem, and the kids had just been killed at Kent State. Oh, it was very touchy. But we were prepared to face it. We were prepared to talk about it. Vietnam, too.
"Now let me set the scene. In Amsterdam we were housed in a downtown hotel quite a long way from the IOC hotel so there wouldn't be any last-minute pressure on members. When we arrived, I went to see Avery to tell him our plans, to show him our guidelines. I told him that we were prepared to talk about Cambodia and Kent State and Vietnam—and that we welcomed any questions. Avery slammed his fist on the table and he said—oh, he was livid, in a rage—he said, 'There will be no politics in this! I will not permit a word to be said about Vietnam or Kent State or any other discussions along those lines!'
"Well, I was surprised," said Kilroy, "but I said O.K., Avery, fine, if that's the way you want it, that's fine. And now look what he did when he got home...."
Kilroy held up a clipping from the Cleveland Plain Dealer dated June 2, 1970. The four-column headline said: WHY LOS ANGELES LOST OLYMPICS, with a subhead saying "War, Kent State Killings...." And Mr. Brundage was quoted as saying that, indeed, the war and the killings in Ohio had influenced the vote against L.A. '76.
Kilroy flushed beneath his tan. "We were prepared to talk about all the conditions in the U.S. We were ready to talk about the black situation. We had blacks on our committee and we were going to let them speak. We had an Administration man and he was going to talk about Kent State. We said we were delighted to talk about our problems. Sure, and we would also be delighted to have the Russians talk about what they had done in Prague. The Russians tried to attack us about our smog. And we said, sure, we have smog, but so do you Reds. What about the Fiat plant in Moscow.
"Oh, there was plenty of infighting going on. You think you've seen politics? Try an IOC meeting. The Russians were threatening to boycott Munich if the Germans didn't vote for Moscow. General Clark [the late José de J. Clark of Mexico, an IOC vice-president] told us he had to vote for Russia on the first ballot because they had promised to vote for him to replace Avery as president next year.
"The Russian tactics were incredible. At one party given by Queen Juliana, these two big burly Russians had this member of the IOC in a corner and every time the poor fellow would try to get away, they'd slam him back into the corner. Another IOC member from a Russian-bloc country—Czechoslovakia—said he'd really like to talk to the L.A. delegation, but he was terrified to do it at the party. So we all kind of sneaked out to a little restaurant and met him there. He sat way in the back of the room, with his back to the door, kind of slouched over the table and he raised his glass and toasted L.A. We raised ours and toasted Prague right back.
"Well, we knew we had some problems after we'd been in Amsterdam for two days. Drapeau was hanging around the elevators at the IOC hotel all the time and he'd buttonhole every delegate who came out, which was against the rules. The Russians had a few of those burly guys who never smiled standing at all four corners of the balcony over the lobby. They were making notes on who was talking to whom. I thought I was in a foreign spy movie.
"For our actual presentation, we had a booth, and we were told ours was the best. We also had half an hour to make the pitch to the IOC assembled. Our film ran 21 minutes. Yorty spoke for three minutes, Preston Hotchkis for three and I spoke for three and answered a few questions. We weren't allowed to watch the other countries' presentations, but I understand Russia's was about 40 years behind the times.
"We were criticized for our cash-flow analysis. Brundage called it 'high-dollar pressure.' But we really used a very low profile. I think we comported ourselves with dignity. Sure, it's hard to come on like a small, meek nation when you're the United States of America. But we geared our presentation to the fact that the Games would not be too big. We did not make any negative cracks. It was purely positive selling of L.A. We pointed out that TV would be live worldwide. That it would be prime time in Europe. And that this would be worth $40 million in revenue. We pointed out that when it comes to television, L.A. is the hub of the industry."
Kilroy sipped glumly at his second beer, then shrugged and spoke quickly as if the memory were too bitter to dwell upon. "Well, it came to the day of the vote. Queen Juliana opened the 69th Congress of the IOC. Then the social and cultural minister of Holland—Dr. Klompe—makes this swell speech welcoming everyone to Amsterdam and she says that she knows that all the IOC members know that the true spirit of the Olympics was shown 42 years ago when The Netherlands—a small country, she says—hosted the Games and she says it is her fond and fervent dream that the Olympics can be returned to the small countries!.
"Then they show a movie about Amsterdam and there—big as life—is this shot of a plane from Air Canada!
"Then Avery gets up and he says, 'Why, to my great surprise, Dr. Klompe, you have given my speech.' This, of course, is a lie because I was in Avery's office two days before and I saw Dr. Klompe's speech on his desk then. Anyway, Brundage launches into this talk, also, about returning the Olympics to the small countries. Then he did some bad-mouthing about the U.S.—anarchy in the streets, Cambodia, riots in the schools, that sort of thing. It was a terrible tragedy. Avery sold out the United States.
"And, of course, once Avery was finished, it was just a matter of counting the votes." Kilroy shook his head. His smile had not broken through his tan for a long time.
Then he shrugged. "Well, we had a power play going and it just didn't work for us, that's all. Our input was not great, our intelligence broke down. But it didn't work for Russia either. The truth is, the IOC ignored all the facts. It ignored the fact that Montreal doesn't have the dough. The IOC is forcing the Canadian government to take over the financial burden. It ignored all the facts."
For the record, the facts were that on the first ballot the vote was Moscow 28, Montreal 25 and Los Angeles 17. A majority of 36 was required. On the second ballot, only Moscow and Montreal were included and the Canadians won with 41 votes. The total cost of the Montreal Games is estimated at $500 million.
Jean Drapeau wept when the vote was announced. The Russians sulked. Mayor Sam Yorty said, "Well, if we couldn't get the Games, I'm glad, at least, they stayed in the Free World."
The Olympic Movement today is perhaps the greatest social force in the world. It is a revolt against 20th-century materialism—a devotion to the cause and not to the reward....