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Visa delays may prevent many athletes from making it to World Championships

Ferdinand Omanyala, who has the third fastest 100m time in the world this year at 9.85 seconds, may not arrive in Oregon in time for the 100m heats on Friday

Photo by: Kevin Morris

Two days out from the start of the World Championships, many athletes have not arrived in Eugene, Ore. due to delays in the U.S. visa system.

Dark clouds roll over Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. during the 2022 Prefontaine Classic. Photo: Kevin Morris

Africa’s fastest man, Ferdinand Omanyala, who has the third fastest 100m time in the world this year at 9.85 seconds, posted on his Instagram that he is stuck in Nairobi due to visa delays. “I haven’t travelled to Oregon yet and the 100m is in two days,” Omanyala said on his Instagram story.

The 26-year-old was hoping to shine in the 100m and become the first Kenyan man to reach a sprint podium at a World Championships. The sprinter is now in a race against time; if his visa is granted Thursday morning, he might barely make it to Eugene in time to race in the 100m heats. (The journey from Nairobi to Portland takes approximately 24 hours, with at least two layovers. The heats of the 100m are Friday night at 6:50 p.m. local time.)

Omanyala isn’t the only athlete affected. Tokyo 100m semi-finalist Gift Leotleta from South Africa told  IOL sport on July 13 that he and nine other South African sprinters are stranded in Italy, as they have not received their U.S. visas yet.

Like Omanyala, Leotleta is now in real danger of missing worlds.

The U.S. visa process can take up to 30 days from the application date.

This delay has also affected Dhanalakshmi Sekar, an up-and-coming 200m runner from India. Sekar was named in the 22-member Indian team last week in the 200m, but now she is listed as doubtful. According to The Bridge India, her visa appointments have been cancelled, which has given the athlete no options five days out from her event.

Sekar was set to debut at her first major championships after running 22.89 seconds in the 200m in June.

The 2022 World Athletics Championships are set to begin on Friday, July 15, from Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Follow Canadian Running on Twitter on Instagram for all things Team Canada and up-to-date exclusive news and content.

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