The United States Government will work with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to ensure athletes and officials from all countries are granted “expedited access” to the nation following travel restrictions imposed by President Donald Trump’s Executive Order.
In a statement, the USOC added they hoped the ruling will “appropriately recognize the values on which our nation, as well as the Olympic Movement, were founded.”
The sporting world is still coming to terms with the potential consequences of Trump’s order, which prohibits citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from being granted entry to the US for a 90-day period.
The move also bans Syrian refugees indefinitely, while refugees from all nationalities worldwide will not be able to travel to the US for 120 days.
It is not yet completely clear how extensive the restrictions, currently only a 90-day temporary measure, will be.
The move had raised concerns as to whether athletes from countries on the list will be able to compete on US soil, while it also prompted fears within American sporting bodies as to whether they can participate in events in Iran.
Citizens from the seven countries have already been prevented from entering the US, while Iran banned Americans from entering the country in response to Trump’s action.
Meisam Rafiei has claimed he has been denied entry to the country for the US Open taekwondo event, which gets underway in Las Vegas tomorrow.
He said he had been turned away despite having an Icelandic passport.
“Like the United States, the Olympic Movement was founded based upon notions of diversity and inclusion, of opportunity and overcoming adversity,” the USOC statement said.
“As the steward of the Olympic Movement in the United States, we embrace those values.
“We also acknowledge the difficult task of providing for the safety and security of a nation.
“It is our sincere hope that the executive order as implemented will appropriately recognize the values on which our nation, as well as the Olympic Movement, were founded.
“Recognizing the extraordinary power of international sport to bring people together in a peaceful celebration of friendship, excellence and respect, the US Government has today advised us that it will work with us to ensure that athletes and officials from all countries will have expedited access to the United States in order to participate in international athletic competitions.”
The statement came after USA Wrestling vowed to send a full delegation to next month’s Freestyle World Cup in Kermanshah despite the Iranian ban.
According to the New York Times, the Iranian Wrestling Federation will meet with Government officials to ensure wrestlers from the US will be allowed to participate in the event, due to take place on February 16 and 17.
In a statement, USA Wrestling stressed their confidence that they will be able to take part at the Freestyle World Cup despite the rising tension at Government level between the US and Iran in the wake of Trump’s executive order.
They claimed they have a “long tradition of competing with nations which may not have a strong relationship between their Governments.”
“This tour continues a long history of goodwill and cooperation between the United States and Iran through wrestling, which is an impressive example of diplomacy between the people of these nations through sport,” USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender said.
“This is an important international competition, and we look forward to competing against the world’s best wrestling teams.”
The sport’s worldwide governing body, United World Wrestling (UWW) said they “plan to review the situation closely” and that they were “confident” the “very positive” wrestling relationship between Iran and the US would continue.
Should the ban be extended, it could also affect Iranian participation at this year’s World Weightlifting Championships, scheduled to be held in Anaheim from November 28 to December 5, although the USOC statement appears to suggest that may not be the case.
Iran are also due to host the second edition of the Fajr Cup in Ahvaz from March 4 to 8.
USA Weightlifting said it would be “unimaginable” to be able to host a “true World Championships” without athletes from the seven affected nations.
The governing body added they were “still working out what impacts beyond the initial 90-day period that this issue may have, both on Iran’s participation in the World Championships in Anaheim and on our own team’s participation in the Fajr Cup in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“Our view at USA Weightlifting is that politics and sport should be separate,” the organisation added in a statement.
“Weightlifting provides an excellent opportunity to interact with our fellow nations from all parts of the planet in a peaceful and cooperative fashion.
“We sincerely hope to peacefully welcome these seven nations to Anaheim this November.”
insidethegames has contacted the International Weightlifting Federation for comment.
Trump’s move was also criticized by Britain’s Somalian-born runner Sir Mo Farah, winner of the Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 meter gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Sir Mo was born in Somalian capital Mogadishu and grew up in neighboring Djibouti before moving to Britain at the age of eight.
In 2011, he and his family moved to Portland in Oregon in order to train with US coach Alberto Salazar.
He is now a full British national and does not hold a Somalian passport.
Sir Mo had feared he would be unable to return home before the British Foreign Office clarified the 33-year-old and others in his position would only be affected if traveling to the US from one of the countries specifically targeted.
The British Foreign Office has since confirmed he will be allowed to return to the US.
In a statement issued following Trump signing the executive order, which has sparked protests across the US and worldwide, Sir Mo claimed the American President had made him an “alien.”
The executive order has also been criticized by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a key player in the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
A federal judge blocked part of the executive order relating to deportations on Saturday (January 28), but this is thought not to affect the initial restrictions.
The White House has also made clear that even those holding green residency cards will require additional screening before being allowed into the country.
By Liam Morgan
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.