The exhibition game scheduled for China in August was canceled Monday by the NFL, which said it wanted to concentrate its “global resources” on next October’s regular-season game in London.
The game had been set for Aug. 9 in Beijing, the second of two consecutive contests between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, who had been scheduled to meet in Seattle the previous week. NFL spokesman Michael Signora said Monday that game also had been called off.
Mark Waller, head of NFL International, said that game takes precedence, forcing the cancellation of the first China game, which now is tentatively scheduled for 2009 — the Olympics will be held in Beijing next summer.
“Our assessment is that Chinese fans would be better served if our game in China is played at a later date after we have launched our international series of regular-season games and more effectively paved the way for the introduction of our game into China,” Waller said in a statement issued by the league.
“As a new sport in China, it is critical that we create the best platform for the introduction of the game. We are delighted Beijing authorities have agreed with our assessment and have invited us to play in Beijing in 2009.”
I can sympathize with Waller’s predictament. Much as he’d like to tell the truth, he’d risk an international incident by revealing the Chinese government has refused to sanction any initiative that might result in exposing their populace to Fred Smerlas.