Book Club Claire is back for our first book club session of 2022! Because of the cries from various Western countries (United States, we’re looking at you) to boycott the Beijing 2022 and the ensuing diplomatic boycott by several of them, we wanted to look at the last US-led boycott of an Olympics, that of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow.
Claire leads us in a discussion of Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, which covers both the political side of the boycott, athletes’ varied reactions to it, and what could’ve been. Did you know that the 1980 Olympics would’ve been the first time the US was represented by an African-American gymnast? True!
We’ve also got some news from TKFLASTAN, including Olympic dreams realized for some of our TKFLASTSANIS who will be heading to Beijing, and dreams dashed for others. Plus, one TKFLASTANI is in limbo – our bobsledder Josh Williamson tested positive for COVID, but if he recovers in time, he could still potentially get to Beijing.
Speaking of Beijing, we have details on the torch relay and the Opening Ceremonies – and it’s almost time for Jill to hop on a plane to go there. Will she make it?
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
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Note: While we make attempts to ensure the accuracy of this transcript, it’s machine-generated and likely contains some errors. Please use the recording as the official record of note.
Episode 224: Book Club Claire on “Boycott”
[00:00:00] Jill: Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown, Alison. Hello. I see you. I can touch you.
[00:00:40] Alison: Well, I thought about not doing the show today, really, in, in keeping with our theme for today.
Just not coming. We’re doing Boycott.
[00:00:49] Jill: Oh, can I have my own little boycott? Oh, you’re going to boycott the show? That is not diplomatic of you.
[00:00:56] Alison: It’s going to be a diplomatic boycott. So I was just going to, not do part of the show, I’ll have a drink with you afterwards, since you are, since we are together, which is a special for us, right?
[00:01:07] Jill: Yes. I am here in Connecticut on my journey to Beijing. So part of the procedure is that I have to get a COVID tested twice. The first test has to be 96 hours before, or maximum 96 hours before my first, my flight to China. And then one, at least 24 hours later, and a maximum of 72 hours before my flight to China.
[00:01:33] Alison: This is why I was going to boycott because you’re bringing in math.
[00:01:37] Jill: Oh, don’t believe you me. I have made charts. I have made graphs. This has all been very, I rewrite this list over and over again because I’m absolutely paranoid about getting the system wrong, but the 72 hour test has to be at an approved testing facility by the consulate. And luckily with so many people from around the world coming into Beijing, many more testing centers have been added, including some in Connecticut, which has made it very convenient. So I’ve come to Alison’s for a few days. Getting my tests done, test number one,
They did very well.
I know, and I’m not a good test taker.
[00:02:13] Alison: So you handled the Q-tip up the nose very, very professionally.
[00:02:19] Jill: So yes, test number two is tomorrow. That’s the one that we send to the consulate and then hopefully I get the green light to get on the plane and go to China. I can’t believe it’s here.
[00:02:30] Alison: A lot of things go into China, a lot of things so far going well.
So we’re going to keep our fingers crossed. It’s going to be smooth the rest of the way.
[00:02:37] Jill: Exactly. Exactly. So more exciting news that we are on the shortlist for the Best Olympics and Paralympics Podcast for the inaugural Sports Podcast Awards. There is a voting element to this. So please go and vote for us.
We are at sportspodcastawards.com. Look for the Olympics and Paralympics category. And that is good through the month of February.
We would like to say a special thank you to all of our Patreon patrons for providing financial support to the show and keeping our flame alive.
If you would like to be a Patreon patron of the week, you can look that up at Patreon.com/flame alive pod. And if you prefer to give us a one-time donation, we have lots of options. Check out flamealivepod.com/support.
As Alison mentioned, it is a book club. A weeks of Book Club Claire is back to discuss Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli. We thought that with all of the talk of the diplomatic boycott or boycotting Beijing, 2022 in general, this would be an interesting book to read because of what has happened with boycotts in the past.
Let’s take a listen,
Claire. Welcome back. We are talking boycotts. What do you have for us?
[00:03:55] Claire: I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts about this book, Boycotts Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic games by Tom and Jerry Caraccioli. I don’t have any knowledge and actually to be completely honest, I have very minimal experience with the boycott of 1980, because when I talk about Olympics, I just completely skipped the summer Olympics of 1980. And I know you both were alive at that time. I was not. And a lot of these stories that we’ve read in this book uh, I had no idea about and just, I mean, even the overall story, the politics of it all. So before we get into the book, I want to know any of the background that you guys have with the 1980 Olympics.
If you were able to watch anything in the winter and if you knew if anything was happening in the summer
[00:04:43] Jill: For me. Cause I’ll be quick. I don’t know why but 1980 is just a black hole. Even the Winter Olympics. I don’t really remember. I remember 1976 Winter Olympics, because my best friend was in love with Dorothy Hamill and had the doll and the Dorothy Hamill haircut.
So I knew who Dorothy Hamill was. And I remember her, I really don’t remember anything about 1980 and I not sure if we just didn’t watch it in my house or if I did and just don’t remember it or didn’t make that kind of impact on me.
[00:05:20] Alison: See, now I have the exact opposite. 1980 is really emblazoned in my brain.
I remember Nadia from 76, but I honestly think a lot of those memories are learned memories because the story was told to me over and over again, 80 both Lake Placid and the boycott are very clear in my mind. I was little, I would have been about eight when this was all happening, but I remember hearing about the boycott and asking what it meant and just sobbing at the time because I wanted to see Nadia again. And the other memory I have very clearly is they didn’t televise any of the Summer Olympics. And I remember watching like the six o’clock news and they had stills from the gymnastics competition when they were giving the results and they had a still of Nadia on the beam.
And I just started to cry again because I wanted to watch it. So yeah, this is, this was a very hard book for me to read. I think this is the hardest one because it felt. In a way that say, you know what, Shirley Babashoff went through with the with the doping and the East Germans didn’t feel as real as this.
[00:06:37] Claire: Yeah, this was a very interesting line all the way through. I gotta admit chapter one or chapter two about the Afghanistan, the entire history of that. I thought, oh no, this book is going to be all this all the time. And I was just not ready for that. But then after they, they talked about the Afghanistan crisis that was happening in the early 20th century and then into the sixties and seventies with the Soviet Union coming in. Once they got through that, and you knew the context of why President Carter and his staff were trying to stop them, then it got into a lot more of the normal kind of book that that we’re used to. What did you think of the book when you read it?
I know Alison, you just said that it was hard for you. Did reading this ring any bells give you more understanding?
[00:07:29] Alison: There was a lot of obviously political and historical context that I didn’t know and had not revisited. So that was new. The one thing I didn’t think the book did a great job. And we talked about this actually, when we watched Miracle the movie about the 1980 UShockey team, I don’t think they put where the United States was in the late seventies and into the, into 1980s in context. Very well. You know, if you were born after that, if you grew up in the nineties or the early two thousands, America’s a very happy, beautiful kind of shining pillar on the hill. In the late seventies, economically internationally, it was not good. You know, cities were going bankrupt.
A lot of people were unemployed. It was, you know, I remember going into New York City as a kid and it was a scary place to go. So that was the one thing I thought was missing in that chapter one chapter two kind of context where I think it’s important because one of the reasons President Carter took such a strong firm stance, I think was in reaction to where the United States was on the international stage.
But I thought they did a very good job in terms of laying out the step-by-step what happened with the actual crisis.
[00:08:54] Jill: Right. And. Yeah. And to piggyback on that, it’s so fascinating. One of the reasons why I did like the book is because I’m, I am fascinated by the 1980 Moscow Olympics, because it is kind of a black hole for U S Olympic history.
And there have been a few books about it. And with the 40th anniversary that we had in 2020, a lot of attention brought to it, but there’s still. I mean, like they’ve said, there was an asterisk next to their name for so many years until the USOPC said, we’re going to call you Olympians.
But I think the IOC still will not acknowledge them as an Olympian. So there’s always going to be that caveat for them. And also because I think this book was also interesting to me because LA 84 was the games that I vividly remember and what hooked me in. And there was that boycott too. And of course we heard a lot about that in retaliation to this boycott, but it is interesting to see.
I’m not sure you get a good enough sense of what a big deal the Soviet Union- US relationship was or wasn’t really because when you think about it, you’re like, we invaded Afghanistan too. And we stayed there for 20 years and that did not cause anybody to boycott games because of us. Why was this invasion so important?
And I think. That’s the point was really good. That just, it was layers on layers. And Jimmy Carter was just having a struggling administration and this was probably one of the last draws or something where he felt he had to prove leadership.
[00:10:33] Claire: I definitely could see that the way that he made the decision with his staff with, the Vice President, Walter Mondale also, behind him and they just strong armed any opposition that was going to come their way, whether it was the athletes themselves.
Here’s another option. No, we are going to boycott here. What about this? No. We are going to boycott and there wasn’t any sort of, and it was when they brought it up, it kind of reminded me of The West Wing. How, you have your objective and you are going to maneuver any political leanings your way so that you can get your goal.
And that’s what I saw on this, for sure. It was politics to a capital P and it didn’t help the athletes at all. And as it was said, A couple of times with some of the athletes they profile and also by the authors, they didn’t do anything to help the situation at all. It, speaking of those athletes, was there anyone that you sympathize with the moment.
There were some sad stories. None of these people made it to the Olympics. Was there anyone that you just read their little five page bio and you went, oh, that’s just awful?
[00:11:45] Jill: I would say the one that sticks out for me only because I’ve met him in person is David Kimes and he was a shooter. And didn’t get to go.
You have a family history in the sport, but when I met him, Ben and I were at the collectors convention that Olympin helped host in Long Beach. And he was there one day and he still, you know, you could still see the disappointment that was there. And the, a little bit of the feeling of I guess, feeling of otherness.
I don’t know. It’s just tough. All of these athletes stories are really tough to read particularly ones who hadn’t gone to a games before, particularly ones who this was it, this was the shot. And talking about big time amateur days. So it’s not like any of these athletes were making money to begin with.
Only a couple like Isaiah Thomas is in the book. Well, he had a shot to make money because the sport was pro, but this was it for them.
[00:12:49] Alison: Yeah, the story that, that struck me the most was Ron Galimore, who is the, a gymnast. And, you know, we talked a lot this summer about Simone Biles and when we read Dominique Moceanu’s book, we talked about Dominique Dawes and just African-American gymnast.
And Ron Galimore was the first African American to make a gymnastics team. And no one remembers him ’cause he didn’t go to Moscow and he didn’t continue on to 84. So this very important man in gymnastics history is forgotten because of the boycott. And what I also thought was funny was in his little profile, he said he didn’t even realize that he was the first African-American on a U S gymnastics team until Brian Campbell told him in the post trials interview, which I thought was really interesting because now that’s such a point of conversation in sports.
You know, even we talked about it maybe last month when Erin Jackson won her first world cup race, that, oh, she was the first African-American woman to do this. And yet in 1980, when you think race would have been a bigger point of conversation, it actually seemed to have been less of a point. And I think it seemed to really bother him that he doesn’t have that place that he deserves in American humanistic history.
[00:14:12] Claire: I had a couple, I felt for and one of them was Sue Walsh, the swimmer, and she had to deal with mono right before the trials. And then in 84, she was going to try to go again and it just ended up not working in her favor.
And there’s so many of those where they go to the 84 trials and they end up being. Just out of reach of the Olympic team. Whereas in 1980 they would have just made it like her. And it’s just having to hear that story over and over and over again. Just made you realize how many athletes were affected in the long run and how many, we don’t know That we should know all these names. And we only know a couple of them. Honestly,
[00:14:57] Alison: What I thought was interesting was I remember as a kid watching the trials, you know, various trials and thinking, why are we having the Olympic trials? If there’s not going, if we’re not going. I wonder how much attention those trials got in the country.
I mean, they were on NBC, they were on Wide World of Sports. So they were getting television time. But I wonder because obviously I was a kid, I didn’t understand the commentary. What, because the book talks about that Americans really did support the boycott that was popular. And that was one of the reasons that then the USOC felt very pressured to follow President Carter’s lead because of popular opinion and popular opinion in other countries became problematic for different athletes. So I wonder how the trials were perceived, you know, did they get watched actually more than they might have otherwise?
[00:15:56] Claire: Well, the swimming trials ended up being after the Olympics themselves. So you could time your, you could go up against the competition that way, even though the pools are completely different in the environment that’s kind of, that’s a ballsy move. I gotta say.
You did talk about public opinion and that’s something that also as you mentioned earlier, we didn’t get the whole environment of the United States, but that was something that they did mention a couple of times overall public opinion was in favor of the boycott in the first place.
Mostly I believe because they had never done a boycott before, so they didn’t know the ramifications that we know now. It was also surprising to see how the athletes that were profiled split ’cause there were some that said I supported it and I still support it. And there were some that said, I, you know, I wasn’t really aware of it, but now I’m kind of sad and some were incredibly bitter.
How did that public opinion affect you reading this book? And knowing that as these athletes are trying to fight for their right to participate in the games, the American people are telling them that they shouldn’t, not just the President.
That’s just, I thought that was just sad because they’re young kids and they don’t, they just want to, play ball and the rest of the Americans are thinking, are telling them–
[00:17:09] Jill: in a way it’s, almost like, so you’re caught up in a lot of nationalism and extreme, I would say, I don’t know.
Alison fear of that in the time when you’re talking about living with the Soviet Union, because I mean, you know, you grew up with the fear of nuclear war that you would be just annihilated. And that was always not always in the back of your head, but it was just like, this is our mortal enemy and everybody’s got their finger on the button. They could come and kill us at any time. And I can see where public opinion would easily go. This is our patriotic duty. This is what we’re going to do. In the same way as we’re going to go off and fight a good war. Well, let’s send all the other people’s kids to do it and I’ll get out of my draft number.
[00:17:57] Alison: And then don’t we still see this today of, I mean, especially in the United States, who’s a patriot? And who gets to decide what is patriotic and what is it? You know, so many of the athletes that we talk to talk about the honor, especially American athletes talk about the honor of wearing Team USA and representing Team USA and doing it for more than themselves and doing it for their country.
And they feel like that is a patriotic duty. And then you have other people in this situation telling them that going and representing your country at a sporting event is the most unpatriotic thing you can do. And what was so interesting to me is that, that, that wasn’t just a debate in the United States.
And this book talks about the big divide happening in Great Britain. And I remember we had a very brief conversation when we talked to Dr. Micheal Warren about that divide happened in New Zealand of all places that any place that they were having this boycott discussion. It was who’s a real Patriot.
And it would be interesting because we’ve seen a little bit obviously related to Beijing, but nobody’s talking to the athletes directly saying, if you go, you are unpatriotic. Whereas at 1980, they were telling these kids, if you fight to go, you are unpatriotic. And what a burden to put on a 19 year old kid who just wants to swim. The other thing that struck me about the whole patriotism question and the difference between 1980 and 2022 was they asked all the athletes that they profiled, what they would say to President Carter. Only one of them or two of them really had any animus. You know, most of them were very much, I understand why he did what he did.
He’s a good man. He made a mistake, was kind of the overall feeling of a lot of them. And that is not what we hear in American politics today. You know, when people start talking about boycotting Beijing, it becomes this, you’re not a real American, you’re a real American, you’re the spawn of Satan for not protecting human rights, It’s so personal and so divisive and so full of bile and spite. And yet these people who, as affected as anyone could have been by a boycott, were not full of violence, spite. They were sad and they were hurt and they still love their country. And they still, many of them expressed respect for President Carter, especially in his post-presidential work.
So that just really struck me when we’re talking about the 1980 boycott, versus when people talk about Beijing in 2022.
[00:20:39] Claire: They have respect for Carter, except for whowas it, Gene Mills, who said he wanted to wrestle?
[00:20:44] Alison: Yes. Yes. There were a couple who are just, you know, clearly, and that’s what I expected. I expected that what we hear, you know, on the worst kind of punishment. On cable news now, but that’s not where these guys are, which is amazing to me.
[00:21:02] Jill: But I wonder if that’s all like stages of grief. If they had written this book 10 years earlier, 20 years earlier, where would these people have been in their journey of accepting what happened?
[00:21:14] Claire: Or even 10 years later, right now in this Twitter world, you know. How would their opinion have to have changed based on all that?
[00:21:22] Alison: And this book was all American stories. And what struck me that I didn’t remember was how many countries didn’t join the United States, especially from Western Europe, in the boycott. I knew the UK had gone because of Sebastian COE and our, you know, we talk about Lord Coe all the time, but I didn’t remember that they got pressure to not go. That the individual athletes in the UK were basically told you can go, but the entire country is going to hate you. And how many of the European countries went, but didn’t march under their flag, but they went so there was definitely not this unified Western front of not going. Puerto Rico went. How bizarre is it that the United States is boycotting and Puerto Rico goes, how did that happen? That’s gotta be a book in and of itself. That’s a story I would really love to, to, can you imagine anything like that happening now?
[00:22:22] Claire: I can’t imagine anything like this happening ever again.
[00:22:25] Alison: Fair enough.
[00:22:26] Claire: This was one of those things. Okay. They, and I have this open to the speech that Vice President Mondale addressed to itwas the USOC in Colorado Springs. This was in April of 1980. And if the entire speech word for word is like five, six pages long, but the biggest part of it is referencing Berlin 1936. That’s what they were going off of. We are going off of the boycott at 1980. They were going off of you 40 years earlier which is actually almost the exact same time as us to 1980, which is hard to think of, but what happened when they did end up going to Berlin? And Hitler had his Olympics and yes, Jesse Owens he did really well, but it it didn’t matter in the long run.
The Nazis had their backing of all the people. Thank you, Avery Brundage. And it just progressed. And then the political situation got worse and we got World War II. Do you want World War III, everybody? It almost seemed like that was what he was getting at. Say, if we do go and we show the Soviet Union that it’s okay to invade these countries, we are promoting another catastrophic world war.
And that was kind of his, he was, it seemed like he was begging at that point. Which comparing it’s hard for me to say, as I was reading it, I had some strong thoughts of how these events weren’t the same, how you can’t plot the same points and assume that they’re both going to go in the same direction.
And how Hitler was a single-minded person who took control of everything. And, you know, the Soviet Union at that point was still was on the brink. And it ended up that this invasion was just kind of their downfall. Nobody knew that at the time, but you know, 10 years later there is no Soviet Union. I, as I was reading it, I did kind of that’s kind of a low blow to compare them to, okay. it’s almost like you’re promoting Nazi idealism by wanting to go to this Olympics. And I really didn’t appreciate that as I was reading it. Did you?
[00:24:32] Alison: What struck me was it reminded me of how present World War II and the Holocaust was in 1980. You know, I remember as a kid they were still catching Nazis in South America on a regular basis. There was still that happening. And so it was, you know, the Holocaust was very much alive. In 1980, there were a lot more Holocaust survivors.
I remember somebody came to our school who was a, you know, somebody’s grandmother, aunt who was a Holocaust survivor. We don’t have that memory anymore. You know, now we have people who lived under the Soviet Union coming and speaking to children about history. So I think our context is so different and World War II seems so so long ago and it didn’t in 1980.
And the other thing that was not long ago was that the attacks in Munich of 1972, and you got to think that was on their minds too, that if we send our kids, are they going to be a target of some kind of reprisal for having even brought this issue to the fore. So I get why it happened and it still breaks my heart.
And we’ve talked about should 36 have been boycotted. You know, it’s very easy to say. Yes and no in hindsight. And I can’t make a decision about what was the right thing to do in 36. And the one thing I guess this book said to me was I understand better now why it happened. Though it didn’t change my mind that I, in my gut, I say, we should not have boycott 36. We should not have boycott 80. Should things have been done differently. Absolutely. But I don’t think boycotting the Olympics does anything for anybody except some politicians to pat themselves on the back and say, look at what we did, which actually did nothing.
[00:26:27] Jill: Right. It’s the assumption that. The Olympic solves everything.
The Olympics doesn’t solve world peace. Maybe it does for two weeks when they’re on, but it doesn’t do anything political. And as the IOC loves to say, we’re not a political body, don’t bring politics in it. It’s the fault. I think of governments who use the Olympics as a way to make a statement.
I think it’s the idealism of politicians to think that, oh, we will make a statement about a big event and that will solve everything, but it’s taking the easy way out too. This is the easy way out versus taking an economic stand invading Afghanistan themselves.
Or, you know, if the invasion of Afghanistan was such an issue, why didn’t you try going to war with the Soviet Union about it now that would not have been a great idea. I can say that right now, but it’s just like, and we see this all the time, just the using this event as a political chess piece, doesn’t work.
[00:27:33] Alison: The IOC gets its foot in it as it did in 36 as it didn’t 80. And as it did in 2014 and 2020 to stop awarding the Games to countries who are going to use it as a legitimising forcefor autocratic governments. Oh yeah, totally. So the IOC gets itself into trouble by, you know, screaming, how it’s not political. And yet with the other hand, handing the Olympics to countries who are clearly going to use it as a political football
[00:28:06] Jill: And all the while believing that they won’t, that it’s going to be good and like, oh, we’re going to help China come out to the world and we’re going to show them what you know, or, you know, Russia is going to play nice or whatever issue you’re going to have.
It’s going to work out and everything’s going to be hunky-dory. And it doesn’t work like that.
[00:28:25] Alison: IOC, you can’t have it both ways. And we’ve said this a million times, you know, you can’t say we are not political and yet handing the Olympics off to people who, you know, the Soviet Union was clearly using it as a political football in 1980, it wanted to be accepted by the world.
It wanted to be seen in the community of nations and this was their big coming out party.
And it did work to a certain extent when we talk about 1960 Rome in 1964 Tokyo, and even 72 Munich welcoming those countries back into the community of nations after World War II. But those nations showed so much work ahead of getting the Olympics of wanting to be welcomed back.
Modern day Russia, modern day China. The, Soviet Union, they didn’t do the work ahead of the games ahead of the awarding of the games that showed that they were going to play nice. And, you know, IOC, first time shame on you. But the 14th time that we’ve seen this happen, you know, same on the IOC.
[00:29:31] Jill: I do wonder if the future host commission will also be a way to stop this from happening again, continually when you have, you can, because they think they can approach cities and nurture their bids for years that they need to, and figure out a way to constantly have somebody up a pool of cities that is ready to go, versus, oh, everyone dropped out because nobody wants to games and citizens don’t want to pay for the games. And we are stuck with autocratic governments, where money is no option.
[00:30:06] Claire: Do you think there will ever be a time where a boycott is necessary?
[00:30:11] Alison: That’s a good question. I think the only way a boycott would be necessary would be if the sport is not fair. It could be just within a sport. You know, for example, if our favorite friend weightlifting, if national governing bodies choose not to participate in the Olympics in weightlifting because that event is not fair. Or I have to agree with Jill that I think that the commission will prevent boycotts for political reasons, because I think you’re going to end up in safer places in less politically charged places though. Any place could be politically charged really? But I think I would backa boycott if the athletes are not safe or if the competition is not fair,
[00:30:58] Jill: or if the IOC has starts implementing rules that are really weird and out there, like suddenly discriminating or suddenly pulling away the putting back amateurism into place. You know, if something like that happened, I could see athletes going, no, we can’t do this.
[00:31:16] Alison: But it’s gotta be an athlete driven boycott.
[00:31:18] Claire: Yeah. I was just going to say that you guys, in both of your scenarios, it was an athlete. It was not a global issue thing. It was the athletes making the choice or benefiting the athletes overall.
[00:31:32] Alison: Yeah, because the athletes are the ones who get hurt and so they should have more control over these decisions. I mean, we say that all the time, the things that make us matter, the things that hurt the athletes, doping, unfair, refereeing, all those kinds of things. And, And even with COVID, all the restrictions that are coming in, where the athletes are unsure of what their competition is going to look like, but that should be up to the athletes.
And the government and the USOPC and the various country organizing committees should be supporting the athletes decision. Not top-down imposing. I mean, obviously if you know about a terrorist threat that the athletes don’t know about, that’s a separate issue, but that’s not a boycott. That’s, that’s protection. That’s a different story.
[00:32:19] Claire: Well, let’s get to any final thoughts before we start to wrap it up?
[00:32:23] Alison: So I cried. I cried again. I cried again, this story, this is one of those things that will always make me cry and I will never get over it as stupid as that sounds. This is one of those little kid hurts that does a go away.
[00:32:37] Jill: The further away we get from this decision, the stupider, it is just when you see how things played out. And I think it was a risky decision. Anyway, I don’t think with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, it didn’t affect us directly. It didn’t affect the United States directly.
It just affected how we thought we were in the world or like, oh, well we got to say something cause we’re the United States and we got to do something about it. It just, it was a horrible mistake that affected a lot of people. And unfortunately there are plenty of events throughout world history that are horrible mistakes that affect a lot of people.
And it’s just, it’s really sad. You know, you talk about resiliency. These are, this is a group of athletes that has to have had to show resiliency in ways they never imagined they would.
[00:33:28] Alison: And every politician who in the past year has been throwing around the word boycott when talking to Beijing 2022 should have to read this book.
[00:33:39] Claire: And let’s give a little credit to president Carter when he was talking about enacting this. This was months away, you know, eight months away or six months away, they were making these final decisions. It wasn’t, you know, what are we now T minus three weeks, as of recording. You know, by this time it’s pointless.
People were making our teams, people are getting their COVID tests and trying to fly over there. So it, the point is moot. At this point it’s done. If you wanted to bring up a boycott, you should have done it six months ago. And everybody was talking about Tokyo at that time. So it probably would have been thrown up at that time anyway,
[00:34:16] Jill: Or they’re desperately trying to get on the news cycle.
[00:34:18] Claire: Yeah, there you go. And any newscycle that is dumb enough to let that fly and hope for clickbait, it’s just, it was like, you don’t deserve to be clicked on or listened to or watch it’s like, just move on.
I do want to mention I was very surprised turning the pages of this and I come across Isaiah Thomas.
I am a giant Pistons fan. And so when I saw his name, I went, he was up for 1980? He would have been in college at the time and sure enough, he was going to be on the team, which makes it a little sad. I mean, yes, he got to play in the NBA, make millions of dollars, win two NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons back to back in 89 to 90.
But in the 92 Olympics, he was also going to be on the team except the star of the Dream Team. Michael Jordan didn’t want him on because he didn’t like him because of the big rivalry between the Bulls and the Pistons. So he got shut out twice from the Olympics. Doesn’t seem to affect him too much.
But I, thought that was very interesting because I knew the 92 story. I did not know the eighties.
[00:35:19] Jill: It is interesting, but I think he also knew that he had a pathway to playing professionally and having a great career and making a lot of money from sport.
[00:35:30] Claire: I think the last thing I wanted to cover was the, and this kind of is relevant because in a couple of weeks, like we said, we’re gonna be having the Winter Olympics. There was talk about the 1980 Winter Olympics and. It’s almost two sides of the coin when you are able to go up against the Soviet Union and have those triumphs, like Eric Heiden and like the 1980 hockey team had, and then you have another side of it where, okay, let’s not compete at all. You see which one gets remembered? I remember the 1980 Olympic hockey team because that’s all anybody talks about. When I was little, my dad. It was obsessed with it. He still is. He’ll still watch it. He still has a documentary that he’ll flip on every winter.
[00:36:14] Alison: I’m coming over to watch it with your dad!
[00:36:17] Claire: He would love that. He would love that.
And, but then 1980 never heard of it. So I think that really gives you a difference that, that I remember, and I enjoy talking about 1980 as opposed to 1980 summer where it was nothing. Do you guys feel that way too? I mean, you guys have been to Lake Placid, so you kind of have that background too.
[00:36:39] Jill: Yeah. And it is very interesting that the decision to not go to Moscow. Basically the deadline was during Lake Placid and that it’s almost like, oh we, we want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to have our big Olympics, but we don’t want you to succeed in yours either. And in a way, some of that took away from the Lake Placid games, not a ton, because then you had the Miracle on Ice, but it was still kind of– and I remember the Lake Placid people were not happy that he announced this stuff during their games, because it just, the public relations side of it was just not great.
[00:37:23] Alison: I would be very curious to know how 84 is perceived in modern day. You know, they had the other side of that, you know, they had a games where they did not go and I’m sure there’s as many broken hearted stories as there are in this book of Russian athletes who never got their shot.
And then they had the added burden of then the Soviet Union falling apart, not long after that. And many of them probably. You know, if they were very early in their careers in 84, by 92, there is no Soviet Union. And what did that mean for them? So this whole endeavor broke hearts everywhere.
[00:38:05] Claire: You really did well. Go cold war!
[00:38:10] Jill: That’s probably a good place to end it, Claire.. Excellent. Thank you so much. What are we reading next time?
[00:38:17] Claire: The next book we’re going to have is called, Driven to Rock: The True Story of an Elite Athlete who Rebuilt his Leg, his Life and his Career by a Paralympian. Mike Schultz.
We are very excited about this. The book was released just on January 18th. So get your copy. He went to PyeongChang in the Winter Paralympics and we are going to be readinghis story. And I’m very excited because like I’ve said before, my Paralympic knowledge is very minimal and I would like to expand it.
So this is going to help. I’m very excited to read this book.
[00:38:51] Alison: I’m going to read it on the plane, flying to the Paralympics.
[00:38:56] Claire: Oh my goodness. I’m so jealous!.
[00:38:59] Jill: I am very excited about this one as well for all of those same reasons, Claire. So I’m really excited that there’s a new Paralympic book out there that we can get our hands on and learn more about.
All right. Thank you so much, Claire. We will talk to you soon.
[00:39:14] Claire: Have fun at the Olympics and the Paralympics.
[00:39:17] Jill: Thank you so much, Claire. You can follow Claire on Twitter at @CauldronLight . We did hear from listener Patrick from Chicagoland about his thoughts on the book, which is really interesting. We always love it when you tell us what you think of the books. And he thought the behind the scenes politics was much more interesting than the athlete stories and how they separated the athletes stories got a little more depressing as you go along, because you do have to read the same kind of story over and over by. Oh. Just had the rug pulled out from under them and it just does get depressing cause what’s going to happen. Oh, here’s another story. Another take on the same thing. Right. And as
[00:39:59] Alison: I said, when we spoke to Claire, let’s get me to cry a little bit more.
[00:40:04] Jill: Exactly. So, and Patrick, he noted. And I thought this was really interesting that about two thirds in, because they’re all the same stories. The athlete’s stories feel. And he’s right. I think about that. And he thought it could have been better as a straight-through narrative of the boycott story sprinkling in the feelings of the athletes, just like David Maraniss did in Rome 1960 and had more of a narrative thing than kind of the narrative story of the history and then like an oral history from different Olympians.
[00:40:39] Alison: It would be interesting to know because it felt like there were two stories happening, which was the one the authors want us to write and which was the one the publisher wanted to publish. And was that the reason for the integration, the way that it was.
[00:40:59] Jill: a compromise, good point. Good point, Patrick. Thank you so much for telling us that and sharing with us.
[00:41:05] Alison: Welcome to TKFLASTAN
[00:41:12] Jill: Uh, Lots of news from our team this week as a Beijing is getting closer and closer, but first a condolences to John Register on the death of his mother, which was really sad.
[00:41:21] Alison: Yeah, sorry to John. Also sad news. AJ Edelman and Team Israel will officially not qualify for the Olympic bobsled competition.
[00:41:30] Jill: So close. So. But
[00:41:32] Alison: yeah, especially in the two man, it was like a 0.2 second kind of difference. Yeah.
[00:41:38] Jill: Rough and AJ has talked about funding issues because bobsleds is an extremely difficult sport. So hopefully they can find funding for another quad and get to Milan Cortina also rough.
[00:41:52] Alison: So we just got this news from Instagram today, bobsledder Josh Williamson tested positive for COVID on Sunday, and he is not traveling to Beijing with Team USA at the moment. But the good news is that men’s bobsled is at the very end of the games. So there is a possibility that he could test negative in time to get there and compete.
So we are. Cheering for Joshua’s white blood cells.
[00:42:17] Jill: Yes, definitely. It’s just heartbreaking to read that today and hopefully, hopefully it all goes well, and this is just a blip and he can get there and compete and realize that dream named also named to Team USA, freestyle skiers Bradley Wilson and Devin Logan.
This will be their third Olympic games and AlexDeibold we’ll be returning to the Olympics in snowboard cross after missing the team in 2018.
[00:42:45] Alison: And then also from Devin Logan, she finished fifth at the ski superpipe event at the X Games. She claims it as her final 11th X games. She’s playing around.
She’s planning to retire at the end of this season.
[00:42:59] Jill: . Biathlete Clare Egan finished fourth in the 15 kilometer individual race, and the U S women finished fifth in the four by six kilometer relay at the biathlon world cup event in Antholz oh, Claire just had a great weekend.
So she finished, she was really close to the podium and the individual, she got to do the mass start because of that. And then the relay team finished fifth, which is just it’s the best American. Women’s relay finish for really in a world cup race in 28 years,
[00:43:31] Alison: They’re not fooling around. They see Beijing coming and they’re coming for Beijing.
[00:43:36] Jill: What a time to peak it was, it was a great peaking moment for a lot of athletes.
[00:43:42] Alison: And, Clare posted today that they are heading out and Nate Bartholomay and Katie McBeath. Fifth in the pairs event at the Four Continents Championships in Estonia.
Our first piece of Beijing news is from us.
[00:44:09] Jill: Oh, yes, we have our viewing guide, which if you need a schedule, it’s a handy-dandy ebook version. You can get it on Amazon it’s Kindle, or you can get it on Apple Books now. And it’s got everyday schedule lined out and a handy-dandy grid of how the sports overlap with each other in terms of when they’re on
[00:44:30] Alison: also descriptions of all the sports, all the new events.
So if you do not know what snowboard cross. We will explain it to you. If you do not know what para biathlon means, the descriptions are in there. So it was fun to put together. And I think it’s kind of fun to use.
[00:44:46] Jill: Yes, exactly. So, get your copy today and prep It’s also an alphabetical order. Not every schedule up there is just saying.
[00:44:56] Alison: So available on, as you said, Amazon and Apple Books
[00:45:00] Jill: We got a lot of news this week about things that. I’ve been waiting to hear about. So first off is a torch relay it. There’s going to be. That’s a big bonus. It’s going to be much smaller than usual running adjust three days, February 2nd to the fourth. It will be cordoned off from the public, but invited people will get to watch the relay pass by.
There will be about 1200 Torchbearers. All of whom have been monitoring their health and they will have tested negative. One of the Torchbearers will be UN General Assembly President Abdula, Shahid, which is kind of. The relay route will go through all three competitions zones and include a stop at the Great Wall, as well as a central Beijing’s Olympic parks, the Summer Palace and other venues,
[00:45:48] Alison: The torch we’ll see a lot more of China than we will.
[00:45:51] Jill: I think so, really, really, but we get to ride the bullet train. I’m not sure the torch gets to do that type at the
[00:45:57] Alison: torch is going to get to do that.
[00:45:59] Jill: We’ve got news on the opening ceremonies. So the director of the opening ceremonies is renowned Chinese filmmaker, Zhang Yimou who did the 2008 opening ceremonies, which were just stunning.
[00:46:12] Alison: The drummers.
[00:46:15] Jill: That was amazing. They had just, the whole stadium floor was all drummers and they were phenomenal, but he’s already said, this is going to be much smaller than 2008. They will have just 3000 performers and that is a fifth of what they had in 2008. The show will also be shorter. It’s going to be less than a hundred minutes because of the weather. It’ll be cold. And because of COVID precautions. But it does say the lighting of the cauldron promises to be different and bold. I’m very excited to see what they do, because remember how they lit the cauldron during last time?
No, you don’t. Oh, they had a, I think it was Li Ning the gymnast who ran around the lighting scrim on the, like the top of the stadium. It was phenomenal,
[00:47:09] Alison: But can they beat the archer in Barcelona?
[00:47:13] Jill: Just the high watermark, but even if like beating the high watermark of Winter Games, which I think is, might beLillehammer with a ski jump.
[00:47:20] Alison: Right. That’s certainly my favorite. Yeah. So we will see, who else is going to be at the opening ceremony.
[00:47:27] Jill: Knock on
[00:47:28] Alison: wood, as long as you continue to test negative.
[00:47:32] Jill: Yeah, I think I’m, I think I’m getting in, I’m hopefully getting in so we will
[00:47:36] Alison: see how this goes in person. So we’ll watch it. I will be watching it on American television.
And if all goes, according to plan, you will be in the stadium. So you’ll be able to let us know what that actually looks like on the other side. That’ll be amazing.
[00:47:48] Jill: Exactly. Athletes are starting to arrive in the villages, which is exciting and more coming in every day. Beijing also got some snow, which is unusual, but it’s kind of nice.
I got to say, because we know that China doesn’t have much snow.
[00:48:04] Alison: It’ll be nice. As long as all the planes can land and the buses can run.
[00:48:08] Jill: They will run. They will make sure they run. Also CNN reported, among other outlets, that you won’t be able to hug each other at Beijing 2022, but apparently is some journalists were gifted Olympic condoms.
[00:48:23] Alison: Yes. The condoms were left in their hotel room, like a care package, like part or part of a care package. So you can’t hug,
[00:48:31] Jill: but apparently you would get a packet of five, one in each color of the Olympic rings. So I will report back if that is in my room when I arrive.
Yeah, the Olympics Beijing 22 website has the fan zone up and running. So we are going to do the fantasy league again. If you are on our Facebook group, we posted the link to it there. There will be a link in the show notes as well. We had a great time doing. During Tokyo 2020 and Listener Dan, I’m gunning for you. Cause now I know how to play, get heat.
[00:49:09] Alison: He wiped the floor with us. Yes, he, he was like the curling sweeper and just took us out.
[00:49:16] Jill: I’m coming hard for you, Dan. Hard, hard. Cute hard hack. Hurry. Hurry.
So we are excited about that. That will do it for this episode, but not for this week because we are going to have a bonus episode on Monday
[00:49:34] Alison: Contributor round table. My favorite week of the year.
[00:49:37] Jill: That’s right. It’s one of the best episodes of the year. Book Club Claire will be back along with a Super Fan, Sarah, and we will give you our thoughts ahead on the Beijing Games. We’re doing that on a special Monday episode, because we’ve decided that there’s so much competition.
Opening ceremonies and pre day one that we are going to do a day minus one episode and catch you up to speed on all of that action that’s happened. So it’s here. It’s just about here and we better get to packing. That’s right. So let us know what you think and let us know what you’re looking forward to.
[00:50:15] Alison: Get in touch with us.
Email email@example.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it, our social handle is @flamealivepod and be sure, especially right now, be sure to join the, Keep the Flame Alive Podcast group on Facebook.
[00:50:37] Jill: All right. We will catch you back here on Monday for the contributor round table. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.