While American sports fans focused on the return of baseball and football last week, the events of Sept. 11 have also had a significant impact on the international sporting scene. Golf's Ryder Cup, which was pushed back to next September, was the most prominent multinational event to be called off. Aside from the question of appropriateness, the primary factor in canceling the tournament was the possible risks of traveling overseas. U.S. Ryder Cuppers were uneasy at the prospect of being "5,000 miles from home if the bombs start dropping," says golfer Scott Verplank.
There's also the issue of safety abroad. Although USA Track & Field (USATF) has said it will not forgo sending teams to any upcoming international meets, it has warned its athletes to refrain from wearing U.S. team logos or clothing carrying logos typically identified with U.S. companies while in foreign cities. Says USATF spokesperson Melissa Beasley, "We advised them to be more discreet when they're out and not to draw any added attention. They have to be more aware of their surroundings."
Here's how other sports have responded:
The World Wrestling Championships, which were scheduled for this weekend at Madison Square Garden, were quickly postponed. FILA, the sport's international governing body, has asked USA Wrestling officials to come up with an alternative date and venue, the hope being that the event will stay in New York City. If that's not possible, Iran, next year's host, has offered to stage the 2001 championships. Because many prominent wretlers hail from countries close to the anticipated conflict—in particular Turkey and Iran—U.S. wrestling executives face the dilemma of playing host to a number of elite athletes at a time when tensions in their homelands are high. As of Monday, no competitors had bowed out of the championships, and, according to USA Wrestling spokesman Gary Abbott, "no countries have canceled due to travel, security or political considerations."
Like the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup, which pits the U.S. against the rest of the world (except Europe), has been pushed back a year, to 2003. The Ryder Cup will now permanently take place in even-numbered years, the Presidents Cup in odd years.
The U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) has withdrawn its entrants from all remaining Junior Grand Prix events, seven of which are scheduled for the next two months in Europe and Japan. "It's a concern to send a young athlete across the world now," says USFSA spokesman Bob Dunlop. No foreign competitors or judges have pulled out of the first senior-level event of the season, Skate America, which will take place as scheduled from Oct. 25 to 28 in Colorado Springs. Extra security is being discussed.
The U.S. women's team withdrew from a World Cup qualifying tournament being held this week in France. The sport's governing body will allow the U.S. to attempt to qualify by playing a best-of-three series against the seventh-place team from the tournament.
The schedule for next year's World Cup in Japan and Korea is unaltered, but officials in cohost nations are considering changing the slogan from "The e-World Cup" to "The Safe World Cup," to reflect beefed-up security. Expected measures include no-fly zones over stadiums, increased searches of fans and more guards. Organizers are consulting with the CIA, the FBI and British intelligence to identify terrorists.