“I have decided that the best way to show our values as a sport is to relocate the All-Star Game and the MLB Draft,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Major League Baseball strongly supports the voting rights of all Americans and opposes the limitations on the ballot box.”
Negotiations to move the game came after Georgia recently passed a strict new voting law, which said critics were designed to deprive voters of their rights. It requires a photo ID to vote for a non-existent ballot, which more than 1.3 million Georgian voters did during the coronavirus epidemic.
The new law limits the location of the bottom boxes and the time when voters must apply. It is also legal to transfer food and water to voters less than 150 meters from the polling station or within 25 meters of any voter standing in line, a disputed provision especially as there are often long voting lines in non-black areas.
Manfred’s decision came two days after President Biden agreed to cancel the game in Atlanta in an interview with ESPN.
“I think today’s professional athletes are behaving admirably. I can strongly support them in doing that. People are looking out for them. They are leaders,” said Mr Biden. The president called Georgia’s new law “Jim Crow on steroids.”
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However, some Georgian Democrats have expressed disappointment over the move. The All-Star Game is one of the league’s premier events and the city of Atlanta will lose a significant financial benefit. Past cities have seen about $ 60 million in economic growth, according to data from the Baseball Almanac.
“Like many Georgian people, I am disappointed that the MLB is scrapping its All-Star game; however, I commend the players, owners and commissioners for speaking out.
Senator Raphael Warnock called the act “a negative consequence” of the passage of the law.
Georgian Republicans, meanwhile, are not. In a press conference on Saturday, Governor Brian Kemp criticized “canceling culture” as the root of Manfred’s decision.
“Safe and affordable elections are worth the threats. They are worth the strike and the charges. I want to be clear – I will not go back to this war,” Kemp said. “What will they do if the Braves get into the playoffs? Will they cancel the final game? Will they transfer it to other regions where there are more restrictions than we have?”
The move was also criticized by former President Trump, who said in a statement urging his supporters to “boycott baseball and all other companies that are disrupting free and fair elections.”
The league has not yet announced a new city to host the area but said the decision was in the process of being finalized. The All-Star Game is scheduled for July 13 and is yet to pay tribute to baseball legend Hank Aaron.