Informal Exchange With Reporters on Soviet Withdrawal From the 1984 Summer Olympic Games

May 9, 1984

Q. Mr. President, could you give us a little preview of what's going to be in your speech tonight?

The President. I wouldn't spoil the surprise for anything in the world. [Laughter]

Q. Is it going to be a surprise?

The President. No. I just think it's some things that need to be made a little more clear.

Q. Mr. President, you haven't spoken out yet personally on the Soviets not attending the Olympics. What was your reaction when you heard that yesterday?

The President. Well, now, I'm not supposed to answer any questions here in the press photo opportunity, but I think I can't let that go by without saying that, like so many, I have a great feeling of disappointment. I'm sorry that they feel that way, and I think it's unfair to the young people that have been waiting for so long to participate in those games.

And it ought to be remembered by all of us that the games more than 2,000 years ago started as a means of bringing peace between the Greek city-states. And in those days, even if a war was going on, when Olympic year came, they called off the war in order to hold the games. I wish we were still as civilized.

Note: The exchange began at 2:05 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House as reporters observed the beginning of the President's meeting with members of an American team of observers of the Salvadoran Presidential election, which took place May 6.