The Soviet Union announced today it is canceling a planned tour of the United States by its Olympic ice hockey team because of tensions caused by the dispute over the downing of a South Korean airliner.
A statement carried by the Soviet news agency Tass said that the tour, planned for December, had become impossible because of fears for the safety of Soviet hockey players in the United States. It said owners of sports arenas in the United States had put pressure on the U.S. Olympic ice hockey program to cancel the visit, which is part of the preparation for the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, next year.
Two U.S. sites, Philadelphia and Detroit, already had canceled the tour by the Soviet team, which won the world championship last season, and Los Angeles was expected to follow suit. Other games had been scheduled at Lake Placid, N.Y.; Bloomington, Minn., and New York City.
A U.S. tour by Soviet basketball players was cut off recently because of protests over the shooting down of the airliner and the Soviets have called off visits by ice skaters and a rowing team. This has led to some speculation in the West that the Soviet Union might boycott the Olympic Games in Los Angeles next summer if diplomatic relations have not improved by then.
The Tass statement today indicated, however, that the Kremlin has no desire to extend political disputes into the sports arena. It noted that U.S. athletes are visiting the Soviet Union for the current world wrest-ling championships in Kiev and that an American judo team is expected in Moscow next month.
Tass said Soviet authorities had not retaliated against the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics because they understood that the Carter administration and not American sportsmen had been to blame.
Saying that the trip by basketball players had to be called off because of "the malicious anti-Soviet hysteria," Tass added: "At present, when official authorities encourage anti-Soviet actions, there are serious fears that proper safety for Soviet players may not be ensured during their stay in the United States."
Inadequate security also was given as the excuse for the cancellation of a visit to the U.N. General Assembly this week by Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei N. Gromyko. Gromyko had been expected to hold talks with Secretary of State George P. Shultz.