Why the US denied four Iranians visas for 2017 World Weightlifting Championships

Sputnik – Four members from the Iranian delegation have been denied entry visas to attend the 2017 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships, set to run in Anaheim, California between November 28 and December 6. Sputnik spoke to an Iranian sports official about the cause of the incident.

Phil Andrews, chief executive of USA Weightlifting, confirmed to independent sports news resource insidethegames that an Iranian athlete had been denied an entry visa under rule 214b, which states that the applicant must make clear his intent to return to their home country after the conclusion of the sporting event.

“In consulting the State Department yesterday, the athlete did not provide sufficient evidence in the same way as his fellow team members,” Andrews said. The other Iranians denied entry include delegates and a therapist, according to the official. Andrews said that these persons “did not have the support letter from the Organizing Committee,” and had only “asked for them overnight.”

Speaking to Sputnik Persian, Iranian Weightlifting Federation chairman Ali Moradi confirmed that the athlete and delegates had been rejected, but clarified that a second athlete was among those who had been denied entry.

Moradi also said that the incident was unlikely to have been any kind of planned provocation. “11 weightlifters from the Iranian delegation were approved by the US Embassy. It’s unlikely that the denial of visas to several of our athletes was some kind of deliberate action,” he explained.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Wednesday, Moradi named the athletes who had been denied US visas as Ayyub Mousavi and Saleh Cheraghi. The athletes applied for visas at the US Embassy in the UAE, but were refused. Mr. Moradi expressed doubts that the Iranian delegation had problems with athletes’ documents, and said he believes that this was probably a mistake by US Embassy personnel.

The official added that if Mousavi, who is in the 94 kg weight category, is not allowed to compete, the Iranian team will collapse.

Iran’s Weightlifting Championship Committee says it hopes that the remaining athletes will be given additional time to obtain visas. To resolve the issue, Iran’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Sport and its national Olympic Committee have begun efforts to coordinate their actions to ensure the issues over their athletes are resolved before competition starts.

Last month, President Trump signed off on an updated list of countries, including Iran, whose citizens face entry restrictions to the United States. In addition to Iran, Chad, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen are also on the list, which will go into effect October 18 after the original six-country restricted travel decree expires.