New York Gov. Hugh Carey, citing dangers to public safety, today ordered cancellation of a rugby match scheduled Tuesday in Albany between the Springboks, the South African national team, and a team of American all-stars from the northeastern United States.
A spokesman for Carey said he acted after conferring with the state police intelligence division, which informed him that local authorities would not be able to control as many as 10,000 demonstrators expected to protest the match.
Carey said he could have called in state police and National Guardsmen to ensure public safety but was unwilling to do so.
Tom Selfridge, American coordinator for the Springboks tour, said he is studying the possibility of playing at an alternative site but would not disclose its location. He said he would try to meet Carey and Albany Mayor Erastus Corning II and then would decide whether to seek a court order overturning Carey's decision.
In Chicago, the Springboks practiced today in rainy Grant Park, not far from the Chicago Athletic Association where they have stayed since their arrival in this country Monday.
The Springboks are scheduled to play the first of three games in the United States somewhere in the Chicago area Saturday, but a coalition of civil rights, religious and labor organizationds has vowed to disrupt the match in protest against South Africa's policy of racial apartheid.
"If the game is played and we can find out where it is, we plan to protest against it and to engage in civil disobedience to stop it," said Frank Watkins, a spokesman for People United to Save Humanity (PUSH), the Chicago civil rights group headed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Lisa Brock, a coordinator for a group called Stop the Apartheid Rugby Tour, said that SART hopes to muster 10,000 protesters to demonstrate against the match Saturday and that buses have been chartered to take protesters to the site of the game.
Because of possible disruptions, Midwestern Rugby Union officials have refused to disclose the site of Saturday's game, and the South Africans have shunned media contact other than to say they are here as sportsmen, not as as representatives of the South African government.
PUSH had announced at a news conference Tuesday that the Springboks planned to play at a field near Lake Geneva, Wis., Saturday and would stay Friday night at a resort hotel in nearby Fontana.
The Lake Geneva school board subsequently denied the Springboks use of its field, and the resort canceled the team's reservations. The hotel said local authorities could not guarantee protection from demonstrators.
The resort said that its rooms were booked by an "out-of-state organization," only recently determined to be the Springboks.
Opponents of the tour were jubilant about the Albany cancellation.
"We consider it a great victory that the last public site of a Springboks match has been canceled," said Richard Lapchick, national chairman of the American Coordinatng Comittee for Equality in Sports and Society. South Africa, he said, is using the tour to "soften public attitudes toward apartheid."
The Springboks also had planned to play an American all-star team Sept. 26. Rebuffed by officials in New York City and Rochester, tour organizers have said that game will be played in secret.
Keith Seaber, secretary of the United States Rugby Football union, said: "I think it is a shame that a political figure has to bring politics into the world of sports. The South African rugby team is in this country legally on visas issued by our State Department, and we feel we have a right to play our sport with them."
The tour is opposed by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which fears a boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles by black African nations.