African Athletes In U.S. Teams Face Uncertainty Under New Trump Bills

T. Maker
T. Maker

Jan. 30, 2017 (GIN) – President Trump’s ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations could have a wide impact on international sports, according to Jere Longman, a sports writer for The New York Times.

Major League Soccer has two American-born players with familial ties to two of the nations facing bans. Steve Beitashour of Toronto has played for Iran’s national team, and Justin Meram of Columbus has played for Iraq.

Four time Olympic gold medal winner Mo Farah, born in Somalia, was also expected to fall under the Trump order barring citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days. Although British with a British passport, Farah is a Muslim and would not receive priority now approved for Christians. Farah is training in Ethiopia right now.

Farah, who lives and trains in Portland with the Nike Oregon Project, posted on Facebook: “On 1st January this year, Her Majesty the Queen made me a Knight of the Realm. On 27th January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien.” … “I’ll have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home,” he said.

This week, Farah received an exemption this week to the ban from Jared Kushner (Ivanka Trump’s husband) which will also exempt other Brits, according to

Abdi Abdirahman, a four-time Olympian for the U.S. who finished third in the 2016 New York City Marathon, was also born in Somalia and the race regularly attracts runners from around the globe.

Trump has called his ban an effort to defend the United States from “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Other athletes awaiting clarification are N.B.A. players Thon Maker and Luol Deng, both born in Sudan.

Mr. Deng, a forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, has lived in the United States for 17 years. His family fled to Egypt when he was 5 to escape the Sudanese civil war. Mr. Deng came to the U.S. when he was 14 and attended high school in New Jersey, and he later became a British citizen.

Christina Kelley, one of the few women allowed into a wrestling area in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution said she was frustrated by Mr. Trump’s decision.

“I don’t think our current president has any clue what the State Department and what sports diplomats and cultural exchanges do for our country and for the safety of our people around the world,” she said.

A World Cup archery event is scheduled for Las Vegas on Feb. 10.

Iran, one of the seven countries listed on the ban, brought one archer, Zahra Nemati, to last year’s Olympics. The status of Iran’s archery team for the World Cup is not known.

The U.S. wrestling team travels to Iran next month for a World Cup event, and the head of the federation said plans are still in place for that trip.

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