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Travel ban's effects on international athletes

by Kaleem Mogent-Sports Editor
Wed, Feb 8th 2017 11:00 pm

 President Trump's original travel ban was for 90 days. The ban barred immigrants and refugees traveling from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen into the United States.  Those affected by this are obviously, immigrants and refugees right?  

If you take a deeper look at the implications of this ban it becomes clear that it has more sinister effects on all people.

For professional athletes, organizations and leagues it can impose various negative alterations to traveling outside the country for any reason.     

Sports are activities that work to  unify all religions, ethnicities, nationalities, genders and everyone under the sun.  Therefore, in recent years we have seen steady improvements of integration of numerous foreign born players.  

Many of them have dual citizenships and travel from their country to the U.S. frequently.  

In some cases they have to travel out of the country to participate in exhibitions where they need to be able to return safely home.  

Trump's ban can complicate these situations and hinder athletes who are from any of these banned countries.  

The immigration ban even affects Americans who go outside of the country to compete overseas.  

According to ABC News as of January 30, two Americans playing in Iran's top pro basketball league were denied re-entry into Iran.

The two players were reportedly stranded in Dubai and Iranian authorities retaliated to get them into the country.  

Moreover, we can see the effects of the ban not just from athletes coming from other countries but Americans traveling away with passports.  

Worst case scenario of this immigration ban is that it could adversely affect the 2024 Olympics and the World Cup in 2026.  The Olympic Committee will select the 2024 host city in September of this year.  

Trump has been supportive of hosting the Olympics in Los Angeles although there have been pre-election concerns raised by the Los Angeles mayor about Trump's presidency. This executive order certainly will not aid the U.S. in the possibility of hosting the Olympic Games in 2024.  

FIFA officials have also had concerns about Trump so they will most likely distance themselves from him in order to successfully organize the World Cup.  

In light of all this, one question begs to be answered, is there a way the immigration ban can allow international athletes to continue to travel freely?  

Lester Munson from ABC News believes that it is indeed possible.    

"There is a simple and effective way to insulate the world of sports," Munson said. "The order already includes exemptions for citizens of the seven countries who have G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-4 visas."

That means that anyone with those visas are supposed to be able to travel freely with proper identification.

"These visas are issued to diplomats, government officials and employees of international organizations with business in America," Munson said. "Anyone with one of these visas is free to enter the U.S., even under the executive order. American immigration law also provides for a P-1 visa, a ticket into the United States for any athlete or team that performs 'at an internationally recognized level.'"

The P-1 visa is essential for athletes or teams travelling to other countries to compete.

"It's the visa that most professional athletes use," Munson said. "If Trump were to add the P-1 visa to the list of exemptions in his executive order, the order's effects on sports would be minimized."  

There are gifted athletes all across the globe. Why should they be denied opportunities to compete at home or overseas with one another?  

At the end of the day it shouldn't matter where you are from, if you can shoot, pass, kick, jump, run, or throw anything at a professional  level the sky should be the limit, not any set border.        


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