Bangladeshi athletes missed an opportunity to participate in the 6th Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas as United States denied them transit visa twice, officials of the Bangladesh Olympic Association said on Friday.
The multi-sport meet, organised by the Commonwealth Games Federation, is scheduled to be held in Bahamas from July 18 to 23.
Four Bangladesh Krira Sikkha Pratisthan athletes, including two swimmers and as many boxers, were supposed to take part in the meet along with two officials.
The six-member Bangladesh team, comprised of team leader MA Kuddus Khan, two swimmers Ariful Islam and Dothoi Proo Marma, their coach-cam-manager Rabeya Khatun, two boxers Azharul Islam and Farzana Akter, were supposed to leave for the Bahamas today.
But the BOA had to cancel the trip after US turned down athletes’ visa requests twice.
Team leader Kuddus, also the general secretary of Bangladesh Boxing Federation, said they submitted all the relevant documents, including the Government Order and visa requesting letters of the organising committee to the US embassy.
‘We had to take a transit in USA to reach the host city, there was no alternative.
‘But they [USA] refused us a couple of times even though we had submitted the supporting letters of Commonwealth Games Federation.’
The four athletes took preparations for at least two months ahead of the Games and Kuddus said BOA also spent a significant amount of money on uniform and blazers for the athletes.
Swimmer Ariful Islam, who began his training along with Dothoi under the Korean head coach Park Tae Goon since May 22, could not hide his frustration.
‘We worked hard in the training camp,’ said an upset Ariful, who was supposed to take part in the 50-metre, 100-metrem and 200-metre breaststroke events.
‘When I took part in the 5th Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa in 2015, I reached the semi-finals of 50-metre and 100-metre breaststroke and 50-metre freestyle events.
‘This time I prepared myself to advance into the finals of all three events, which prompted me to give an extra- effort in the training camp. We even trained during the Eid [Eid-ul-Fitr] day.
‘It was really sad that we won’t be able to take part in the Games.’
Another swimmer Dothoi was scheduled to take part in the 50-metre, 100-metre and 200-metre freestyle events.
The two boxers started their preparation camp on May 1 under national team coach Riad Hossain.
Among them, Azhar was selected to take part in the 51kg weight category and Farzana was scheduled to participate in the 52kg weight category.
‘It was a great stage for them to get international exposure,’ coach Riad said.
‘They worked hard in the training camp only to put some good performance but due to visa crisis the tour was cancelled, which was really disappointing for us.’
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