(ATR) Despite best efforts by Panam Sports, seven Cuban representatives invited to the inaugural Awards Gala in Fort Lauderdale were unable to attend due to lack of visas.
No Cubans among the 300 delegates at the Pan Am Sports seminar last week in Florida. (ATR)
The group was to be headed by Cuban Olympic Committee president Roberto León Richards, who was also to attend two other meetings in Ft. Lauderdale, the Panam Sports Symposium on Best Practices and an extraordinary meeting of the Central American and Caribbean Sports Organization.
The Secretary General of the COC, Ruperto Herrera, and the president of the Pan American Cycling Confederation, José Peláez, were also expected to travel.
CACSO president Luis Mejía Oviedo, lamented the absence of the Cuban executives and said he was waiting for more details.
The president of Panam Sports, Chilean Neven Ilic, also voiced regrets, telling Around the Rings
that the continental sports organization made every effort to ensure the presence of Cuban officials in Ft. Lauderdale.
An official of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee tells ATR
it tried to intervene with the U.S. State Department on behalf of the Cubans.
The general secretary of Panam Sports Ivar Sisniega has contacted USOPC chair Susanne Lyons regarding the treatment of the Cuban officials and athletes.
Lyons and USOPC executive director Sarah Hirshland both attended the best practices symposium.
The USOPC leaders reiterated the open door policy to the USOPC's modern high-performance centers for athletes and coaches.
At present, with the virtual closure of the United States embassy in Havana and consular services, Cubans must travel to a third country to complete their visa applications for entry to the U.S.
The US diplomatic staff in Cuba has been reduced to a dozen officials, following Washington's measures for the so-called sonic attacks in Havana that affected a number of its employees. Canada also said it has registered several cases.
has not been able to confirm whether the Cubans, with the exception of wrestler Mijaín López, Olympic, world and Pan American champion, were able to follow the cumbersome process.
López spent several days in Mexico in unsuccessful negotiations with the United States Consulate. The Cuban was nominated for the Best Athlete of America award that went to artistic gymnastics champion Francisco Barretto. The Brazilian gymnast won the popular vote on the internet.
The other three Cubans who stayed in Havana were boxing coach Rolando Acebal, weightlifter Gabriel Rosillo and canoeist Katherin Nuevo.
It is likely that Cuba’s National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation or the Cuban Olympic Committee will publicly comment on this incident shortly.
Reported in Ft. Lauderdale by Miguel Hernandez.
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