Schwarzenegger's Name Removed From Graz City Web Sites

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The Terminator has been terminated in his hometown.

On Tuesday, a day after officials in Arnold Schwarzenegger's Austrian birthplace of Graz removed his name from a soccer stadium to comply with the California governor's wishes, they deleted references to him on the city's Web sites.

Schwarzenegger earlier this month wrote to Graz officials asking for his name to be removed from the stadium and ordering the city to stop using it for promotional purposes.

He was reacting to fierce criticism from opponents in his hometown who denounced him for refusing to block the Dec. 13 execution in California of Stanley Tookie Williams.

Late Sunday or early Monday, Graz officials took down the large metal letters spelling out Schwarzenegger's name on the 15,300-seat arena. On Tuesday, the mayor's office said references to the actor-turned-politician were scrubbed from Graz's main Web site and from a sister site devoted to the region's sports scene.

"It's all settled," Thomas Rajakovics, a spokesman for Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl, told Austrian media.

Although special folders and presentations devoted to Schwarzenegger were expunged from Graz's official Web site, the site still carried a news account of the renaming of the stadium, which had borne the governor's name since 1997.

"We rewrote the contents a bit," added Dieter Hardt-Stremayr, an official in charge of tourism in the city about 120 miles south of Vienna.

After Williams' Dec. 13 execution triggered a firestorm in Europe, and calls mounted for the stadium to be stripped of Schwarzenegger's name, the governor opted for a pre-emptive strike: A week ago, he dashed off a letter to local officials ordering his name to be removed and said he was returning an ornate ring of honor that Graz officials gave him in 1999.

Capital punishment is illegal in Schwarzenegger's native Austria, where many people consider it barbaric. Opposition had run especially high in Graz, whose official slogan is "City of Human Rights."

With the Hollywood star's name gone, the sign atop the main entrance to the stadium now reads simply, "Stadium Graz-Liebenau," a reference to a district of the city.

Rajakovics said Graz officials had the ring safely tucked away in the city's safe in case Schwarzenegger asks for it back. He said it was premature to speculate on whether the ring would be auctioned off or publicly displayed as local media reports have suggested.

Last week, Nagl wrote to Schwarzenegger urging him to reconsider his decision to cut ties to the city and to keep the ring. Nagl said he reassured Schwarzenegger that most local residents still admire him despite fierce opposition to his pro-death penalty stance.

Many Europeans have scorned the United States' use of capital punishment in general, and Schwarzenegger's refusal to grant clemency to convicts on California's death row in particular. They are now waiting to see how Schwarzenegger deals with the scheduled Jan. 17 execution of a 75-year-old inmate.

Schwarzenegger was born in 1947 in the village of Thal just outside Graz, where he began his bodybuilding career. He emigrated to the United States in 1968 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1984, but has retained his Austrian citizenship.