Nearly 100 visa issues for athletes and officials scheduled to be participating in the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, US, remain unresolved, a World Athletics spokesperson told CNN Thursday.
In total, 374 visa cases have been escalated to a joint group comprising of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), Oregon22 and World Athletics, the spokesperson said, with 255 cases so far being resolved and 99 cases still unresolved.
It is the first time the World Athletics Championships will be held in the US and it’s the most significant track and field competition being held in the country since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Former US sprinter and four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson said the situation was “ridiculous.”
“It’s been known US entry visa may be one of the most difficult and WA [World Athletics] and the organizing committee didn’t get ahead of this?” he wrote on Twitter.
“[Seb] Coe & Max [Siegel] said these World Champs are an opportunity to grow the sport in the US. But gave no strategy,” Johnson added in a later tweet.
“I said it won’t work if strategy wasn’t executed BEFOREHAND to insure step #1 is these champs succeed. Like insuring people can get visas in a notoriously difficult process?”
Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala, who set the African 100m record of 9.77 seconds last year and is the third-quickest man in the world this season, is one of the most high-profile names to experience visa issues.
The 26-year-old was fortunate to eventually have those issues resolved, but according to the BBC, will arrive in Eugene, Oregon, less than three hours before the men’s 100m heats begin on Friday.