Sun, Sep

Dalung calls for review of visa policy for athletes


In a protest letter to Nigeria's minister of foreign affairs Geoffrey Onyeama, the nation's sports minister Solomon Dalung has asked for a review of visa policies for Nigerians following the denial of visas to athletes attempting to attend the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas.

The athletes had secured their visas to the Bahamas and only required transit visas to enable them to fly through London, but were denied. A second attempt to fly via the USA also came up short, with just one visa issued out of 26 applications.

 "I am devastated because this has serious implications on the psychology of these young people who had offered to serve their country, Dalung said in a statement.

                                                    NIGERIA'S SPORT MINISTER

"I have deposited a protest with the minister of foreign affairs against the two countries to explain to us why these young people who are sports men and women were denied mere transit visas.

"We were not asking for residence or long-term visas. We just requested for airport direct airside transit visas, which will only allow them to remain at the airport and change aircraft for onward journey. We will need an explanation from these countries. It is unfortunate."

"Ironically, we don't have such harsh policies in Nigeria. Citizens of these countries walk into Nigeria like lords, but Nigerians seeking just transit visas are treated like common criminals in these countries," Dalung added.

"This cannot continue. We must redefine our relationship. If it is not mutually inclusive and beneficial, then we should know where we belong."

The minister thanked the parents of the young athletes who were denied participation at the Youth Commonwealth Games for allowing their children to be in camp for over 5 weeks. He further called for a review of the visa policies which hamper solidarity among nations.