Rabat - The 3000-meter steeplechase world vice-champion, Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali, was prevented last week from going to the United States to take part in the Eugene Diamond League. The US diplomat who refused to issue the visa has offered some explanations.
Rabat – The 3000-meter steeplechase world vice-champion, Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali, was prevented last week from going to the United States to take part in the Eugene Diamond League. The US diplomat who refused to issue the visa has offered some explanations.
“Around the world, some visa applications may require additional administrative processing that can lead to delays. The time required to perform this additional administrative treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each case,” he explained to TelQuel via email from the American Embassy in Rabat.
Essentially, the denial is due to the increasingly complicated procedures for obtaining US visas imposed by the Trump administration..
Contacted by Morocco World News, the US Embassy has explained that a P-1 visa is required for anyone traveling to the US temporarily to perform in a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually, or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.
Despite a letter of invitation and promise of the special P-1 procedure from the organizers, the athlete has still not received his passport.
El Bakkali unfortunately missed the Diamond League competition, which took place May 26 in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
However, Moroccan athlete Rabab El Arafi was able to compete in the 1500 meter race. She finished in fourth place, with a time of 3 minutes and 59 seconds, recording the second best women’s performance in Moroccan history.
Meanwhile, El Bakkali has competed in multiple other international sporting events. In 2016, he qualified for the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final at the Rio Olympics and placed fourth after a personal best of 8:14:35 minutes.
A year later, the sportsman won a silver medal at the IAAF London 2017 World Championship. El Bakkali claimed second place behind Kenyan Conseslus Kipruto in the 3,000-meter steeplechase race.
The 22-year old Moroccan is one of several promising athletes that Morocco has pinned for greatness and gold on the world stage.