The 3000-meter steeplechase world vice-champion, Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali, has been prevented from attending the Eugene Diamond League in the United States at the end of May, after the US authorities refused to issue a visa to him.
At first, El Bakkali did not get any reason for having his visa rejected. He even had an official invitation from the organizing committee of the Eugene league to participate in the competition.
However, later the US diplomat that refused to issue the visa offered some explanations regarding the rejection. According to him the denial is due to the complicated procedures for obtaining a US visa which are increasing every day under the Trump administration.
“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 said.
The US embassy also explained that the P-1 visa, for which El Bakkali applied, is required for anyone traveling to the US temporarily to perform in a specific athletic competition as an athlete, either individually or alongside a group.
The 22 years old El Bakkali, who was placed fourth in men’s 3000-meter steeplechase at the Rio Olympics finals in 2016, is one of the few promising Moroccan athletes in which the country has pinned its hopes for a gold medal at a world competition.
In 2017, the athlete won a silver medal at the IAAF in London World Championship. He had made his debut at the 2014 Championship in Athletics, taking the 10th place in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
The US administration is known for its strict visa rules and requirements. El Bakkali is not the first person whose visa has been rejected this year by the US administration. Football legend Maradona, Israeli singer Amir Benayoun, Kosovo PM Ramush Haradinaj, Argentine Ex-Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, Spanish singer Isabel Pantoja, Russian Bolshoi ballerinas and other well-known and famous people had their visas rejected by the US administration this year so far.