I was pondering this issue that ought to be finally dealt with. It has been forty years since the USA basketball team was robbed of their gold medal due to politics and enormously bad calls. Try this conclusion:
The US immediately protested against the result, with their appeal being heard by a five-man panel. The decision went precisely along the lines of Cold War allegiance: US allies Puerto Rico and Italy voted to uphold the appeal, while Communist Bloc Hungary, Cuba, and Poland voted to reject it. The USSR were awarded the gold medal, while the US team voted unanimously not to attend the medal ceremony, and to refuse their silver medals. During the medal ceremony, an announcement was made over the P.A. system explaining why there was an empty space on the podium: ‘The United States team refuses to accept the silver medal. They believe they deserve the gold.’
The brave Americans did the right thing: They refused the silver medals. The Olympics’ position is clear: If the team asks, they will be given to the team. No one will ask. It’s a matter of principle and I respect that. One in his will asked his heirs never to ask for the medal, forever. But others might be willing for their families to have the medal.
BUT, I think it has been long enough. All it would take in my view is a call from either Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or President Obama to the IOC President and the medals would surely be given to the US Government. I would like to see (President Obama played college basketball, he should be able to empathize with this issue. I’ll publicly give our President credit for one thing done right!) the team be honored at the White House, given their medals as a thanks for represented their nation with honor and integrity, and maybe a civilian honor to boot. Maybe the Presidential Medal of Freedom is too much but how about this Presidential Citizens Medal?
I think this is a honorable way out that preserves principle but gives the team or their families to have that tangible symbol of Olympic honor.
(A personal story: I have a ticket stub from the 1972 Olympics: The USA v. Brazil BB game. My father who was stationed by the AAFES over there at the time, his family had not yet arrived, was invited to that game in Munich. He saw that team play. The US team won that game. I remember either watching the USA-USSR game or the reports of it and was stunned at the blatant cheating of the Soviet bloc.)