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A Letter From The Publisher: May 21, 1984

3 minute read

“To say that the news of the Soviet withdrawal from the Summer Olympics deflated our Los Angeles staff would be a considerable understatement,” says Bureau Chief Benjamin Gate. “Like the athletes training to compete for the medals, we have been preparing our coverage for more than a year: beats were assigned, sources developed and operational plans drawn.” Gate heard the unhappy announcement on cable TV last Tuesday morning while he was at home downing a glass of Instant Breakfast. As he made ready to redeploy the bureau’s staff, TIME correspondents and stringers around the world were also responding, including those in Washington, Colorado Springs, Geneva and Eastern Europe. At the heart of the controversy, Moscow Bureau Chief Erik Amfitheatrof was surprised to find the issue being down-played to the point of invisibility. Notes he: “A story that was Page One everywhere else was on the last page of Pravda.” In California, where the story was very big news, Correspondent Steven Holmes, who has reported on the operations of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for ten months, canvassed its headquarters seeking reactions from committee members and President Peter Ueberroth. Joseph Kane handled the security implications, William Blaylock the effect on Olympic sponsors and licensees, and Russell Leavitt the repercussions for commercial television. Correspondent Melissa Ludtke talked to Olympic contestants and heard in their voices “both an empathy with the Soviet athletes and an exasperation that U.S. performers had once again been robbed of the opportunity to test themselves against the best in Olympic competition.”

Ludtke is a recent migrant to the West Coast from New York City, where she reported for TIME on subjects as diverse as babies, heart disease and the forged Hitler diaries. Her involvement with sports has been lifelong. She rowed competitively for Wellesley (as did her grandmother from 1903 to 1907), was a reporter for 4½ years at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, and while at TIME held down second base for the magazine’s Softball team. In Los Angeles, she finds “the ease and proximity of doing sports remarkable. Facilities are so close and the weather almost always so cooperative that the intention can be turned into action in seconds.”

Ludtke, Holmes and Gate, all onetime New Yorkers, got together for a head-clearing jog one morning last week. Said Gate of the short surcease from the trials of a late-starting cover story: “It produced a different kind of sweat, but it felt great.”

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