Major League Baseball says it will cancel next week's regular season opening games in Japan because of the threat of war in Iraq.
This was to be only the second time that Major League Baseball opened its regular season in Japan. The Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners were scheduled to play two games in Tokyo March 25 and 26. But with war looming in Iraq, baseball commissioner Bud Selig decided to reschedule the games on U.S. soil at a later date.
Baseball President Bob DuPuy says it was the right thing to do. "Given the uncertainty of the world conditions and particularly given the specific timing of this trip, it was better to cancel the trip than to proceed with it," he said.
Some of the players and officials had expressed reservations about traveling to Japan for security reasons. Seattle Mariners chief executive Howard Lincoln said the decision to stay home and play the games in the United States is understandable. "All of us at the Mariners are disappointed. And I am sure the folks at the Oakland A's are disappointed as well," he said. "But I think we have to look at this thing in perspective and we all know what is going on in the world, and as Bob Dupuy has indicated, the Commissioner agonized over this decision, but I think it was the right decision."
Japanese sports fans love baseball and the approximately 100,000 tickets for the two games between Seattle and Oakland at the Tokyo Dome were sold out. Japan's baseball commissioner called the decision to cancel the games regrettable but that it could not be helped because of the impending war.