NEW YORK Baseball canceled its season-opening series in Japan because of the threat of war in Iraq and other sports discussed whether military action would cause changes to their schedules.
The NCAA said its men's and women's basketball tournaments, which start this week, will go on as scheduled. But men's games could be forced off CBS if that network goes to war programming.
The NBA and NHL said their schedules would remain unchanged, and those sports discussed security arrangements, as did the tennis and golf tours.
Baseball's Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics were scheduled to leave for Japan on Wednesday, and to play a two-game series in Tokyo on March 25-26. It would have been baseball's second opener in Japan, following games between the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs in 2000.
Given the uncertainty that now exists throughout the world, we believe the safest course of action for the players involved and the many staff personnel who must work the games is to reschedule the opening series,'' commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday. It would be unfair and terribly unsettling for them to be half a world away away from their families at this critical juncture.''
The NCAA has spent four months reviewing options in case of war. The latest ultimatum President Bush delivered to Saddam Hussein in a television speech Monday night heightened the urgency of our considerations,'' NCAA president Myles Brand said.
He consulted Tuesday with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and members of the NCAA's governing bodies before deciding.
We are also concerned that life go on as normal,'' Brand added. We see no reason, after consulting with Secretary Ridge, to make any alterations to our plan.''
Brand kept open the possibility of reconsidering if unforeseeable threats emerge in coming days.
Because of the current security climate, the NCAA is taking extraordinary steps to ensure the safety of the athletes and fans,'' Brand said.
He said it was up to television networks whether their coverage of the tournaments take second billing to war coverage if a U.S.-led coalition attacks Iraq.
CBS holds the rights to the men's tournament. But the network, which is owned by Viacom Inc., has discussed switching the games to ESPN or other outlets if CBS needs more air time for war coverage.
ESPN and ESPN2 already are scheduled to show the women's tournament.
The PGA Tour does not plan to cancel the Bay Hill Invitational this week or any other of its tournaments.
With a lot of things that are going on, I think it's a wonderful distraction for us, and hopefully we can provide the type of entertainment for people who decide to tune in and watch,'' Tiger Woods said. This gets their mind freed up from what's been going on.''
The NBA said no changes had been decided on.
In the event of war, we would work together with those agencies to determine if any changes in our season are appropriate,'' league spokesman Brian McIntyre said. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NBA has been working with our teams and a major international security firm to ensure the safety of our employees, teams, players, officials and fans. Since Sept. 11, the NBA has made significant changes in team travel policies and in procedures relating to security inside and outside our team offices, practice facilities, playing arenas and hotels.''
Said NHL spokesman Frank Brown: We anticipate all games being played as scheduled. All appropriate plans for security have been in place and remain in place.''
Football players are working out in Orlando, Fla., and are scheduled to leave Tuesday and Wednesday to go to six European cities for the NFL Europe season, which starts April 5.
We are monitoring developments, but at this point, there has been no change in our plans to go forward with the NFL Europe season as scheduled,'' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
NASCAR is scheduled to race this weekend in Bristol, Tenn. The U.S. Army sponsors Jerry Nadeau's car and he went to visit troops in Afghanistan in December. The Air Force is an associate sponsor for Ricky Rudd, the National Guard is a sponsor for Todd Bodine, and the Navy sponsors the truck driven by Jon Wood.
We believe there is a special bond between our troops and our sport,'' NASCAR president Mike Helton said. Every branch of the American military is represented in NASCAR racing, and our chairman, Bill France, has always described NASCAR fans as the kind of people who go to war and win wars for America.' Many of those fans are currently deployed throughout the world, doing just that.''
Officials of the Nasdaq-100 Open tennis tournament plan to start as scheduled in Florida on Wednesday.
Life goes on. I think that's what the president wants us to do,'' tournament chairman Butch Buchholz said. We're just going to deal with it on a day-to-day basis.''
Heightened security is in place for the 12-day event, which each year draws more than 200,000 spectators from around the globe.
The Dubai World Cup races, the richest day in thoroughbred racing, will go on as scheduled on March 29.
There are 13 U.S-based horses in Dubai, including Harlan's Holiday and Xtra Heat. Harlan's Holiday, trained by Todd Pletcher, is the likely favorite for the $6 million World Cup, the world's richest race, while the 5-year-old mare Xtra Heat will run in the $2 million Golden Shaheen.
Also running the World Cup is Blue Burner, owned by George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Farm.
Dubai's the safest place in the world,'' Les Benton, chairman of the Dubai World Cup committee, told Bloodhorse.com. There is no possibility at all of the meeting not going ahead. Everything is all systems go.''
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