Officials, journalists, others may miss World Championships over U.S. embassy’s visa refusal
The long-awaited Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championships will begin in Eugene, United States, tomorrow, but some Nigerian coaches and accredited journalists may not be part of the event due to their inability to secure visas at the American Embassy in Lagos and Abuja.
The Oregon 2022 World Championship will run from July 15 to 24.
It was learnt yesterday that some Nigerian coaches, accompanying officials from the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and Sports Ministry, as well as four journalists accredited by World Athletics to cover the championships, have not been given visas to travel to the U.S.
Some of the affected people were said to have met the necessary requirements, including paying their visa fees of $160 since April.
“Some of us paid our visa fees back in April, only to be given an appointment date for March 2024,” one of the affected officials lamented, yesterday.
“I don’t know why the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria will allow touts to control appointment dates. Before the American government accepted to host this World Athletics Championships, I expected their embassies around the world to treat the athletes, coaches and accredited journalists with respect. I am sure this kind of treatment won’t be meted to athletes, officials and journalists from Great Britain, Germany and Australia. This may affect Nigerian athletes in Oregon.”
Another official also hinted that the AFN/Sports Ministry got a Note Verbale through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the affected persons, only for the U.S. Embassy to reject the majority of the names. The Embassy insisted that only those with Diplomatic and Blue passports would be honourned. “They said no to those with Green passports,” the official said.
MEANWHILE, Africa’s fastest man from Kenya, Ferdinand Omanyala, faces a race against time for an American visa so he can compete at the World Athletics Championships.
Omanyala, who won the African 100m title last month in Mauritius, is due to race in the heats tomorrow (Friday) in Oregon.
“Sad that I haven’t travelled to Oregon yet and 100m is in two days. Visa delays!!” the 26-year-old Kenyan sprinter posted on Instagram.
“I am still hopeful. If I make it to the starting line, it will be fireworks. I thrive on setbacks.”
Currently the third-quickest man in the world this season behind Americans Fred Kerley and Trayvon Bromell, Omanyala set the African 100m record of 9.77 seconds in September last year.