Major League Baseball (MLB) has moved its upcoming All-Star Game out of Georgia, after the US state passed a controversial voting law.
The law in question features new restrictions on mail-in voting, as well as more control over how elections in Georgia are run.
It also includes the strengthening of voter identification on absentee ballots, as well as the banning of food and drink being given out in voting queues, and was signed into law last week.
Critics of the Republican-sponsored bill say that it aims to suppress the voting rights of ethnic minorities in the wake of last November’s election.
In response, the MLB has pulled the All-Star Game on 8 March from state capital Atlanta.
Commissioner Robert Manfred, who runs the league, said in a statement: “Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views.
“I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.
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“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.
“Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”
Mr Manfred added a new venue would be announced shortly.
The Braves statement regarding the moving of the MLB All-Star Game: pic.twitter.com/0Iapm3eIre
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 2, 2021
The Atlanta Braves, who play at the stadium, said they were “saddened” by the decision.
The team said: “This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city.
“The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion.
“Our city has always been known as a uniter in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community.
“Unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision.”
President Joe Biden, a fierce critic of the bill, had previously said he “strongly” supported moving the game out of Atlanta.
Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, accused the MLB of having “caved to fear”, saying: “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied.
“We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections. Earlier today, I spoke with the leadership of the Atlanta Braves who informed me they do not support the MLB’s decision.”