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Visas, a major concern for dozens of athletes before the worlds

Visas, a major concern for dozens of athletes before the worlds

Like Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala, dozens of athletes are struggling to get a visa to the United States, as the world championships begin Friday in Eugene, Oregon.

To participate in Eugene’s worlds, you obviously have to be patient depending on your nationality. as such sprinter Ferdinand Umanilawhich could finally happen to Eugene … Three hours before the 100-meter series on Friday, not at all ideal for mental and physical preparation, dozens of athletes, especially from African countries, are facing a real headache. to the United States in time.

And so the South African athletes were only able to leave the Italian training camp on Thursday to join Oregon. The French-based Chinese pole vaulters also faced heavy pressure in the home stretch.

Less than 1% of the athletes involved according to the organizing committee

“None of this would happen in a truly professional sport”Former US champion Michael Johnson protested on Twitter.

World Athletics said in a statement to AFP “To work with the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee on the issue of visas”Adding that most of the problems were “resolved”Remembering it International travel has become more complicated by the pandemic. »

American runner Fred Curley, who questioned the issue of visas that could break sports equality by excluding many athletes from the world, was satisfied for a short time. ” no comment “.

Late Thursday afternoon, Renee Chubb Washington, a key leader in the USATF, who is also a Worlds board member, spoke about the two entities’ efforts: “We have been working on this topic since 2017, we continue, in agreement with the US Olympic Committee, that there are less than 1% of the 5,500 participating athletes who do not have a visa, and even today there have been improvements. To complicate matters, administratively in some countries, It was Covid too. We will not be 100% satisfied unless 100% of the athletes can attend.”

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For his part, Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics, admitted that the situation was not entirely satisfactory: There will be lessons to be learned, of course, but we will work until the last minute so that as many athletes as possible are with us.”.

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