Africa’s fastest man, Ferdinand Omanyala, failed to qualify for the Oregon 100M race finals, after coming 5th in his semi with a time of 10.14 seconds. Despite his predicaments, the electric champion is still setting the pace. Many are celebrating but Africans are clearly not happy, even with Faith Kipyegon and Winnie Chebet qualifying for the 1500M women finals.
With the US set to host Olympics, many African States are still subject to numerous visa delays and have now taken to social media, to loud their frustrations.
The Oregon Competition has received a depth of criticism concerning visa delays and many are now claiming sabotage for the African champions.
A Nigerian sports official, speaking to the Guardian, said “Some Nigerian athletes have had to pull out of competitions at the last minute because of visa problems.” He also said that despite paying visa fees in April, some athletes were given consular appointments for dates in March 2024.
Elsewhere, South African media outlet MSN reported that several runners traveling from Cape Town to Oregon were stranded in Italy because of visa problems.
In 2020, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the State Department of US, announced suspensions for all routine visa services in most countries around the world, a move that has affected hundreds of thousands of people seeking refugee status and nonimmigrant visas.
“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,” an unidentified official told the Guardian.
In Kenya, the US Embassy has shifted the blame to the government over corruption allegations that led to Omanyala’s visa delays. However, State Department of Sports officials strongly denied allegations that joyriders paid Ksh. 2 million each in bribes to be included in the list, in what has been likened to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics games scandal in which officials appropriated tickets, cash allowances, and sporting gear that was intended for athletes.
The matter is under investigation through the Director of Criminal Investigations office.
Blame game or not, sabotage, conspiracy, or corruption. Our African athletes should not be subject to such frustrations, deliberated by unscrupulous systems and individuals. They are our heritage.