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Wednesday, 9 May 1984
Page: 1818


Senator ROBERT RAY —Can the Minister representing the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism recall the many statements made by Soviet officials condemning the United States of America for boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics? Given today's announcement by the Soviet Union that it intends to boycott the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, will the Minister reassert the Government's view that the Olympic Games should be open to all nations? Finally, will the Minister view favourably the suggestion that all future Olympic Games be held in Greece?


Senator RYAN —I do remember the condemnation from the Soviet Union when the United States decided to withdraw last time. Senator Ray will be aware that the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism, Mr John Brown, has already expressed our Government's regret about the decision of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to withdraw its athletes from the Los Angeles Olympics. Mr Brown said:

We believe the Olympic Games to be one of the greatest vehicles the world possesses to promote peace and understanding with all the athletes in the world joining together in their common pursuit of sporting excellence.

Mr Brown pointed out that the Australian Labor Party, while in opposition in 1980, played a very strong part in the athletes' decision to compete in Moscow, despite the Fraser Government's strong intervention to the contrary. He went on to say that, despite all the controversy that surrounded the Moscow Olympics, they were conducted in great harmony. He said that as a gesture of good will and as a mark of respect for the extraordinary capacity of USSR athletes, Australia- one of only three countries to have competed in each modern Olympics-calls on the USSR to reconsider its decision. So it is quite clear that our Government regrets the decision and hopes that the USSR will be persuaded to do what we tried to persuade the United States to do in regard to the Moscow Olympics, that is, to allow its athletes to compete. That is very clearly the hope of this Government. The proposal that the Olympics should be held from now on permanently in Greece, of course, would be a matter for Government consideration . I will refer that matter in the first instance to John Brown and to the Foreign Minister, Bill Hayden.