Donald Trump has called for Americans to boycott “woke” Major League Baseball (MLB) after the organisation announced it would move its All-Star Game out of Georgia in protest of the state’s new voting law.
“Baseball is already losing tremendous numbers of fans, and now they leave Atlanta with their All-Star Game because they are afraid of the Radical Left Democrats,” Mr Trump said in a statement on Friday.
The former president argued that Democrats simply “do not want voter ID” to be involved in elections, adding that it is “desperately needed.”
He called on Americans to “boycott baseball and all of the woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections,” adding: “Are you listening Coke, Delta, and all!”
Democrats and voting rights groups have condemned the passage of the new sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections as they say the law will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of colour.
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MLB announced in a statement earlier the same day that they would be moving the game out of Atlanta in response to the passage of the bill.
"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," Rob Manfred, Commissioner of the MLB, said.
"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. Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” he said.
The statement continued: “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."
President Joe Biden offered his support in line with the decision, the White House said in a release.
"The President has made his concerns about the bill passed in Georgia clear, given its extreme provisions that impact the ability of so many citizens to cast their votes," the White House said.
"He said earlier this week that if the decision was made by Major League Baseball to move the All-Star game, he would certainly support that decision - and now that MLB has made that choice, he certainly does.’’
The controversial bill includes sweeping voting restrictions such as limiting the use of ballot drop boxes, cutting the time people have to request an absentee ballot, and setting photo ID requirements for absentee voting.
The legislation is one of a wave of GOP-backed election bills introduced in states around the country which come after Mr Trump stoked false fraud claims regarding the 2020 election.
Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey on Wednesday called Georgia’s controversial new voting law "unacceptable," and “a step backwards” in an interview with MSNBC.
The decision to move the game has prompted a wave of differing reactions across the political spectrum, with Republican politicians having largely condemned the change.
In a statement in reaction to the news, Georgia governor Brian Kemp, who signed the bill after it cleared the Georgia General Assembly on 25 March, condemned “cancel culture” and “woke political activists”.
"Georgians - and all Americans - should fully understand what the MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included,” he said.
“If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter,” the governor said, arguing that he believes the bill “expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections” and insisting he will “not back down”.
Following the 2020 election in November, Mr Trump refused to accept his loss by about 12,000 votes in the state, a long a Republican stronghold.
The former president lobbied to overturn the result by undermining confidence in the voting system in the state and falsely suggesting the ballot had been rigged.
Federal and state government officials have confirmed that there was no evidence the 2020 election was compromised in any way.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press
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