Baseball's All-Star Game moved from Atlanta over voting laws

New York (AFP) –

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Major League Baseball moved its 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta on Friday after concerns that a new Georgia state law would negatively impact the ability of black people to vote.

"The best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year's All-Star Game and MLB Draft," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

State lawmakers passed the legislation last month and US President Joe Biden told ESPN on Wednesday he supported moving the game out of Atlanta.

Manfred said MLB is "finalizing" plans for a new host city for the contest between American League and National League stars that was set for July 13.

Manfred said the league "engaged in thoughtful conversations" with clubs, former and current players and the players' union to consider their views before making the decision.

"Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," Manfred said.

"In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States.

"We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game's unwavering support."

The new law has brought protests and threats to boycott such Georgia-based firms as Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, which both came out against the new law.

Among other moves, the law would make it a crime to hand water to people waiting in long lines to vote, saying it could offer an unfair opportunity to influence voters.

Manfred said MLB will continue with plans to honor former Atlanta Braves star Hank Aaron at this year's All-Star Game festivities.

MLB's planned investments to support local communities in Atlanta as part of All-Star Legacy Projects will move forward as well, he said.