The Minister of Sports of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Rachid Madrane said on Tuesday he learned “with consternation” the travel ban imposed to the French-speaking Belgian taekwondo competitors, as they were about to embark for the US.
“The conditions of this ban are inadmissible,” the minister said in a statement. “The athletes learned that they had been refused at the airport on the grounds that they did not have a visa, even though they had valid passports and an authorisation to travel to the US (ESTA). The requirement of a visa is a new requirement which the Embassy had informed the Belgian Association of Taekwondo only the night before the departure of the delegation,” he denounced.
Francophone athletes Si Mohamed Ketbi and Mourad Laachraoui cannot participate in the US Open, the first major international taekwondo competition of the year that takes place in Las Vegas from 31 January to 3 February 2017. Rachid Madrane wishes to bring its “total support” to these sportsmen, excluded from a major competition “for reasons not established“.
For the Minister, the “intolerable policy” of President Trump and the new American administration in terms of access to the territory, “constructed on mistrust, withdrawal and arbitrary, cannot continue any further.”