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Letter to Dawn Fraser - Olympic boycott



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The following is the text of a letter from the Prime Minister, delivered to Miss Dawn Fraser this morning:

Dear Miss Fraser,

Thank you for your invitation to attend a public meeting in your hotel on 19th April, at which you challenged me to explain why Australia's trade with the Soviet Union has not been stopped while the Government favours a boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games.

As you know I shall be absent from Australia on the date you proposed, attending the Zimbabwe Independence Celebrations. I am therefore unable to accept your invitation.

The Government has made its position regarding the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan quite plain, but I state it again aimply and briefly.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was totally without justification.

It was an affront to the principle of the independence and sovereignty of nations, and clearly in contempt of the charter of the United Nations. The continued occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, and the acts of terrorism, murder and destruction by which the Soviet Union is trying to establish its total authority there, are a crime against humanity and a continuing insult to the international community, which has expressed its outrage at the Soviet intervention

in the affairs of a sovereign state and a member of the non-aligned movement. .

To demonstrate its concern, and in support of the widespread international outrage at the Soviet intervention,. the Government took a number of practical steps to circumscribe Australian relations with the Soviet Union. These measures include:

. an offer to consult with the United States about greater Australian involvement in patrolling and surveillance of the Indian Ocean

. . a commitment not to pick up any short-fall in United States wheat sales to the Soviet Union

. suspension of all fisheries matters between Australia and the Soviet Union

. suspension of Soviet cruise ships operating from Australian ports

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. suspension of visits by Soviet research vessels to Australia ports i

. the denial of various requests by Aeroflot, including stationing of personnel, and direct Soviet/Australia airflight

. the suspension indefinitely of scientific collaboration

. the suspension indefinitely of official talks and visits between Australia and the USSR

. arranging no new undertakings under the cultural ■ programme

. providing ten thousand tonnes of wheat valued at about $2 million for use in refugee relief programmes for displace Afghans, and making a cash contribution to the UNHCR appeal of $1 million;for those purposes .

. taking action to support the 1.9 8 0 Moscow Olympic Games not being staged in Moscow

These are all practical measures which are intended to complement similar measures taken by other like-minded nations. ·

For example, our support for the United States action regarding the sale of grain to the Soviet Union is consistent with the policies of most other grain exporting nations. It is proving to be an effective measure against the Soviet Union. If it

were possible to achieve widespread support in other areas then the Australian Government would be prepared to consider taking further action against the Soviet Union. .

Without similar action by other countries, however, it would not be possible to achieve our objective of imposing a sufficient cost on the Soviet Union to persuade it to withdraw from Afghanistan and to hestitate to take similar action elsewhere

in the future. The Government is aware of the limits of ' Australia's influence, and has acted in those areas where Australia has some weight, either alone or in co-operatipn with other countries. '

As to the Olympic Games, the Government - along with many others - cannot understand how a country engaged in invasion, occupation, and suppression of another nation could be a fit host for a sporting contest of this importance. It is generally accepted that the Soviet Union sees the Games as a means of attracting widespread approval of its foreign policy.

Indeed, the party activist' sbooklet for 1980 claims that the e decision to hold the Olympics "in the capital of the world's first Socialist state" testifies to the "general recognition of the historical importance and correctness of the foreign political course of our country". By going to Moscow, therefore,

our athletes would be portrayed by the Soviet Union as in

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sympathy with Soviet foreign policies. But a foreign policy that results in the brutal invasion and repression of another people is one that is abhorrent to the great majority of Australians. It is certainly one that the Government cannot

endorse. Indeed, the Government wants the Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan so that the people of that country can -choose their own future, free from outside interference.

An effective boycott of the Olympics is the best.way of demonstrating to the Soviet people the worldwide condemnation of their country's invasion of Afghanistan. It is something that cannot be disguised from them.

I am sure that it was for reasons such as these that the United States Olympic Committee has decided not to send a team to Moscow. I welcome this decision and believe it is one that ought to be followed by the Australian Olympic Committee.

The Government has no wish to penalise athletes. Indeed, we recognise the personal sacrifices made by many athletes over many years, and we understand their disappointment if they are unable to compete in the Olympic Games. It is for

this reason that we have been active in seeking to stage a special high quality games, to be open to athletes from all countries. Nor has the Government any wish to see politics intrude unnecessarily into sport. But we have to recognise

that there are occasions when this does happen. Hitler's attitude towards the Jews brought politics into the 1936 Olympics, the exclusion of Israel from the 1948 Olympics was another example, as was the expulsion of South Africa by the

International Olympic Committee in 1970. And if politics intrudes into sport in the "case of the Moscow Olympics, the blame for this rests squarely with the Soviet Union."

In conclusion, may I ask you to ask yourself these questions. Would you, as an Australian athlete, continue to support the holding of the Games in Moscow if the Soviet Union had

invaded a neighbouring country such as Papua New Guinea, instead of a distant one such as Afghanistan? What would be your reaction if it was Australia that had been invaded by the Soviet Union, and the rest of the world simply went

ahead and played games with the attackers as though nothing had happened? If you would be against the Games being held in those circumstances, as I am sure you would be, I cannot see how you can be in favour of Australia participating in

the Moscow Games in present circumstances. I hope you will read this in full at the meeting as I cannot be there. As I intend to publish this reply, I clearly would have no problems if you were to publish your letter.

Yours sincerely,

Malcolm Fraser

16 April 1980

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