Russia Censures US Over Visa Denial for Wrestlers

Russia Censures US Over Visa Denial for WrestlersRussia Censures US Over Visa Denial for Wrestlers

Mikhail Degtyarev, chairman of the State Duma’s (the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia) Committee for Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs, has called the denial of US visas for Russian wrestlers hoping to compete at the United World Wrestling Men’s Freestyle Wrestling World Cup in Iowa a “blow to global sports”.

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the US Embassy in Moscow refused to interview Russian wrestlers who had qualified for the competition -- a prerequisite for obtaining entry visas to America, Insidethegames reported.

The situation surrounding the Russian wrestlers comes following an increase in tensions between the US and Russia following the Russian government’s alleged involvement in the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in the British city of Salisbury earlier last month.

This has led to both the US and Russian governments expelling each other’s diplomats.

“The denial to issue entry visas to the Russian freestyle wrestling team is another blow not only in regard to Russian athletes but to global sports as well,” Degtyarev told Russia’s official state news agency TASS.

“This decision has bewildered the US athletes as well. The lack of the consular staff or any other formal reason for denying visas to athletes speaks for the incompetence and the fact that the [hosting] country is failing to meet its obligations.”

“It is high time for the international sports society to understand that athletes from any other countries can be at any time in place of Russian athletes,” he continued.

Degtyarev added that the US should take lessons from Russia on how to organize international sporting events. “We have enormous experience in organizing tournaments of various levels,” he told TASS.

“For instance, we have passed a law, which allows foreign football fans to enter Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup without entry visas. With a strong desire to annoy Russia, the United States is now bringing into a question its own ability to organize major global sports events.”

The 2018 UWW Senior Men’s Freestyle Wrestling World Cup is scheduled to be held on April 7-8 at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Caption: Mikhail Degtyarev


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