Chris Thompson (Alan Storey, Aldershot Farnham, and District) will not be competing in the 2022 Eugene World Athletics Championships men’s marathon this weekend after going through significant delays in the processing of his US visa.
According to UK Athletics, they had been in close liaison with World Athletics and enlisted the help of the UK Government to solve a last minute hold up. However, due to the close proximity to the marathon on Sunday, July, 17, Thompson is now unable to travel and compete.
Great Britain & Northern Ireland team lead Paula Dunn said, “We are obviously very sad for Chris that he has been unable to travel to Eugene for the World Athletics Championships. We are grateful for the interventions and assistance of World Athletics and the UK Government to attempt to resolve the matter, but time has run out.
“We are gutted that Chris will miss the Worlds as he has worked incredibly hard to be in a position to race here.”
Thompson said, “I’m absolutely devastated I won’t be in Eugene to compete. This was my major aim for the year and had prepared well for it. I’ll never know what might have been, but I had high expectations of myself going out. It should never have got to this point and It’s hard to believe it has. However, I’m very grateful to my close network of family, friends, colleagues, and officials who supported and rallied for me, to try to amend the situation.”
Thomspon, age 41, has run the marathon as fast as 2:10:52. He is a 2010 European Championships silver medallist in the 10,000m event having run 28:27.33 in Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium.
Apparently, Kenyan sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala only got into the World Championships at the last minute due to visa issues. He has run as fast as 9.85.
Africa’s fastest man, Ferdinand #Omanyala got his US visa 24 hrs before the race of his life. It will take him 18+ hrs from Nairobi to Oregon. He has 3hrs after landing to clear customs, get to the arena, compete with the other well-rested athletes and win. We can't wait! pic.twitter.com/wKkiwVsSkn— shittufowora (@ThisFowora) July 15, 2022
Omanyala is one of the hundreds of athletes and officials who have encountered visa issues ahead of the world championships leaving them overly stressed.
The poor communication with the US immigration and embassies as well as a backlog of applications issues appear to be the primary issue. Some applications are being filed too late and athletes must schedule an appointment and interview in order to obtain a temporary visa.
“This is ridiculous!” former American sprinter Michael Johnson said, “It’s been known US entry visa may be one of the most difficult and (World Athletics) and the organizing committee didn’t get ahead of this?”
Johnson added that this “would not happen with professional sports.”
World Athletics said on Thursday that 255 of 374 outstanding visa cases had been resolved after being escalated to a joint group comprising USOPC, Oregon22, and World Athletics. Another 20 have been refused and around 100 are still to be resolved, with many of them expected to fail.
“We won’t be 100 percent satisfied unless we had 100 percent of the athletes here. That is not something that we will probably be able to achieve but that is what we strive for,” USATF COO Renee Washington told a news conference following a WA Council meeting.