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Olympic Games

Volume 984: debated on Thursday 8 May 1980

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asked the Prime Minister, whether, pursuant to the statement, Official Report, 20 April, c. 190, by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, during the Adjournment debate on the Olympic Games, she will outline Her Majesty's Government's policy of giving modest help from public money to those who have followed Her Majesty's Government's advice about where the British interest lies.

I have been asked to reply.

Our policy is to give help in staging alternative events to the governing bodies of the sports concerned, if that is what their members wish. We have received no specific requests so far, but we expect that any sums involved would be modest.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that it is not only the athletes, but in many instances their relatives, who have sacrificed a great deal and are bitterly disappointed about losing their deposits and not going to Moscow? Has he any thought of giving them some modest recompense for doing what is in the national interest?

We have made our position clear. We are considering making sums available to the governing bodies of the sports concerned, but we are not considering going any further.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that these petty recriminations against the Soviet Union serve no useful purpose and can only have the effect of undermining world peace, besides the effect on our athletes, who have trained so assiduously over recent weeks and months to participate in the Olympic Games? Is it not time for the Government to take a more state-manlike approach?

To condone the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan would be far more dangerous to world peace than anything else.

Does my right hon. Friend think it rather odd that some athletes and athlete administrators are seeking public money at the same time as they are demanding that politics be kept out of sport?