Visa, a major concern for dozens of athletes ahead of the Worlds

Of course, to participate in the Eugene Worlds, you have to be patient, depending on your nationality. Like sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala, who could finally arrive in Eugene … three hours before his 100m series this Friday, not at all ideal to prepare mentally and physically, dozens of athletes, especially from African countries, are facing a real administrative headache , and experiencing enormous difficulties in getting a visa to the United States on time.

South African athletes were not allowed to leave the Italian training camp until Thursday to join Oregon. Chinese pole vaulters from France also faced intense stress in the home game.

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

“None of that would ever happen in a truly professional sport”protested on Twitter against former US champion Michael Johnson.

World Athletics said in a statement to AFP “to cooperate with the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee on the issue of visa allocation”adding that most of the problems were “dissolved”reminding that “Travelling internationally has become more complicated due to the pandemic. »

American sprinter Fred Kerley, questioned about this issue of visas that could break sports equality by depriving several athletes of the Worlds, was content with a short ” no comment “.

Late Thursday afternoon, Renée Chube Washington, one of the principal leaders of the American Federation (USATF), also a member of the Worlds board of directors, spoke about the efforts of the two entities: “We have been working on the topic since 2017, we continue, in accordance with the US Olympic Committee, there are less than 1% of the 5,500 athletes involved who do not have a visa, and even today there are improvements. . Some complicated matters, administratively in some countries, was also the Covid. We won’t be 100% satisfied until 100% of the athletes can come. »

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

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