How history will judge the Olympic boycott remains to be seen, but indisputably the athletes who might have represented the 62 boycotting nations have made a unique personal sacrifice. That sense of loss is particularly sharp in this country, a nation heretofore at the forefront of the Olympic movement and unofficial winner of 13 of the 18 previous Games. As the Moscow Games open Saturday, no team will march in behind the Star-Spangled Banner. Whether one supports the boycott or opposes it, that is a somber fact indeed. And for the athletes who might have competed but will not, pro-boycott and anti-boycott alike, 1980 will be a year of nullity and bleakness. For some, there may be another chance four years hence in Los Angeles; for others, there will never be another chance. Here, in pictures and words, we offer an appreciation of four Americans, symbolic of all who might have been Olympians, and the tortuous path to the Games a fifth has taken.
Peter Schnugg has twice made the Olympic water polo team, but never the Games. He's had it with trying. He has an MBA and is marketing a charcoal lighter as he starts his business career.
Anthony Sandoval juggled his studies so that he would have time to train for the marathon, but his town in New Mexico needs a doctor, and he is torn between completing medical school and taking a chance on 1984.
Johnny Bumphus planned to follow in the footsteps of gold medalist Sugar Ray Leonard. Instead, he is a prison deputy shopping for a manager who will take on just another good amateur who thinks he can be champ.
Sullivan Award winner Tracy Caulkins saw Moscow as the highlight of her swimming career, although she is still in high school. Los Angeles 1984 means she will have four more years of hard training—and rigorous dieting.
Bill Rea missed making the 1972 Olympic team by a narrow margin. He missed again in '76. Now, by an accident of birth, our sixth-ranked long jumper will be in Moscow competing for Austria. He could win a medal.