National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said yesterday the league will not hold Sunday's conference championship games if the television networks scheduled to broadcast them determine events in the Persian Gulf War warrant their preemption.

"We said {in a statement Thursday} that we're going to be monitoring the events in the Middle East right up until kickoff on Sunday, which we're doing," Tagliabue said during a telephone interview from the NFL's offices in New York. "And if the networks believe that the events in the gulf are so dramatic or so significant that they should go to an all-news format, then we would not play our games. . . .

"It depends on what happens every night, every day," Tagliabue said. "We can't make a decision on Thursday or Friday with the speculative basis of what's going to be happening Sunday morning in a situation like this. We expect to play, but we're going to be monitoring it right up until Sunday morning."

The AFC championship game between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Raiders in Buffalo is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. and be broadcast by NBC. The NFC championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants in San Francisco is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m and be broadcast by CBS.

A television network source said "the NFL is not anxious" to have the games postponed. Spokesmen for NBC and CBS said yesterday the networks were planning to televise the games. NBC spokesman Ed Markey said halftime would be expanded from the normal 12 minutes to 15, so a news update could be accommodated.

NBC, CBS and ABC resumed normal programming yesterday, after nearly two days of continuing war coverage, but still plan special reports and updates, and may preempt programs as events warrant.

"Nobody has a problem with that on our side," NBC Sports Executive Producer Terry O'Neil said last night. "If it is postponed at the last minute, we will pack up and go home and wait for the new date, whatever it may be.

"We have been planning since the start of the war for the possibility that Sports would program nothing all weekend. There was always the understanding that it might not air. The same goes for the NHL All-Star Game and the Hula Bowl," which NBC is scheduled to broadcast today.

Tagliabue said the current plan -- to let the networks and event determine the playing of the games -- was based in part on conversations with the White House, Defense Department and members of Congress, all of which indicated that, to this point, playing the games, including the Super Bowl, set for Jan. 27 in Tampa, as scheduled would be appropriate.

In other developments, the Washington Bullets' games are not on radio this weekend because of the war. Officials of WTOP-1500 and Baltimore's WBAL-1090 said their stations would not broadcast the team's games. WINX-1600 also carries the games, but because of technical reasons is not able to do so when WTOP preempts them, Bullets Executive Vice President Susan O'Malley said. Douglas also said WTOP would carry neither of the NFL conference championship games. Both are being broadcast by CBS Radio. Barrett said WBAL would decide today whether to carry the games.

Elsewhere, the U.S. International Speed Skating Association was scheduled to hold a meeting in Milwaukee last night to decide whether to send a men's sprint team to Europe on Monday and whether to bring home teams already in Europe, the association's program director Katie Class said.

A number of U.S. luge teams already in Europe will remain there, but U.S. Luge Association marketing director Bob Hughes said the association will no longer publicize the team's schedule.Its trip to the world championships in Latvia already had been canceled because of unrest there, and the event has been moved to Germany. And USA Wrestling also has canceled an upcoming trip to the Soviet Union, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Tagliabue said that in addition to his discussions with government officials, he used history as a guide, particularly President Franklin D. Roosevelt's words and actions during World War II. In January 1942, Roosevelt wrote a letter to Major League Baseball, asking that it continue play despite the conflict.

"We've been trying to determine what's the right thing to do," Tagliabue said. "I guess I start with the gravity of the situation and recognizing that we're at war. At the same time, I think about what's been done in the past with the World Series and FDR's letter to Major League Baseball. . . . Then you think about FDR's first inaugural, where he said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

"And I think as we said {Thursday}, you need not paralyze the nation when you're in a serious conflict. I think that history shows that morale and energy and confidence comes with playing sporting events that people are interested in. . . . So that was the first part, thinking {it} through on our own.

"The second step was making sure that the White House and the Defense Department shared that view. So we had discussions with the White House and the Defense Department, and it was confirmed that our operating assumptions were sensible."

A meeting between Tagliabue and President Bush that Tagliabue said was scheduled "weeks ago" was canceled. "It was sort of in anticipation of the Super Bowl and the type of thing" where Bush hosts a White House ceremony for the winning team, Tagliabue said.

As for contingency planning with regard to the Super Bowl, Tagliabue said, "we have about 15 different alternative series of assumptions and no plans."

Although the television considerations have been involved in the NFL's thinking, Tagliabue said commercial considerations have not.

"The sponsors and the advertising have been completely irrelevant as far as I'm concerned," he said. "The question is news and the sense of proportion and the sense of priority."

In another development, the Marine Corps decided to pull its paid television and radio recruiting advertisements for an indefinite period, said Capt. Linda Western of the sevice's headquarters public affairs office. The Army said Thursday it was pulling its ads.