Ferdinand Omanyala among hundreds of track worlds athletes affected by visa issues

Ferdinand Omanyala
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Due to visa issues, sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala will depart his native Kenya for the world track and field championships on Thursday evening (Kenya time) and arrive in Eugene, Oregon hours before his first race Friday, his representative confirmed Thursday.

“Ferdinand finally got his visa this morning and is on his way to the airport as we speak,” the representative said Thursday morning U.S. time. “He will arrive about three hours before his heat tomorrow.”

Omanyala’s 100m heat is Friday around 7 p.m. local time in Eugene.

TRACK WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule | U.S. Roster | Key Events

Omanyala, the African record holder in the 100m with a best time of 9.77 seconds, is one of hundreds of international athletes whose travel to worlds in Eugene has been affected by visa issues.

Specifically, 374 cases among athletes and officials, about 73 percent of which have been resolved, according to USA Today, citing World Athletics.

“The Oregon22 organizing committee and World Athletics are working closely with the USOPC to follow up on visa applications, the majority of which have been successfully resolved,” according to a World Athletics statement Wednesday. “We continue to follow up with those outstanding visa issues. International travel in general has become more challenging due to the pandemic and we are extremely grateful for the help and experience of the USOPC in helping to resolve issues that have come up in the last few weeks.”

Omanyala, 26, is the joint-third fastest man in the world this year (9.85 seconds), trailing Americans Fred Kerley (9.76) and Trayvon Bromell (9.81). Omanyala beat Kerley at a meet in Nairobi on May 7.

An African nation has never won a world championships men’s 100m medal. Kenya, long a distance-running powerhouse, has never won an Olympic or world medal in an event shorter than 400m.

Last Sunday, Syria’s lone entered athlete, Majd Eddin Ghazal, the 2017 World high jump bronze medalist, said on social media that he would miss the world championships. “Tired of delayed replies,” he posted without specifying. Ghazal has for years dealt with visa issues trying to get into international competitions.

An Iranian news agency reported Thursday that both of its entered athletes, including 2012 Olympic discus silver medalist Ehsan Hadadi, were denied visas.

On Friday, British officials announced that two-time Olympic marathoner Chris Thompson will miss Sunday’s men’s marathon after “significant delays” processing his U.S. visa to solve a “last-minute hold up.”

“It should never have got to this point and It’s hard to believe it has,” Thompson said in a press release.

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