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Climbing South Africa team battling to scale US visa wa...

Sport

HEIGHT OF FRUSTRATION

Climbing South Africa team battling to scale US visa wall

Climbers at the national championships at Bloc11 in Cape Town in March 2022. (Photo: Facebook / South African National Climbing Federation)

Problems in obtaining visas for entry to the US are proving to be almost insurmountable for the young Climbing South Africa squad.

US visa backlogs could have cut the rope on Climbing South Africa youngsters’ championship ambitions. Now they face an uphill battle to get to the world youth championships.

The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) Youth World Championships is set to take place in Dallas Texas from 22 to 31 August 2022.

Climbing South Africa has selected six groups of girls and boys to participate, including under-15, under-17 and under-19 members. But team South Africa might miss the tournament owing to the continued backlog in visa processing at the US embassy offices in South Africa.

The National Climbing Federation’s national championships were held in March 2022 at Bloc11 in Cape Town. (Photo: Facebook / South African National Climbing Federation)

It would be the third year in a row that the South African youth team was unable to compete.

“Unfortunately, because of Covid, the guys missed out in the previous two years – 2020 and 2021 – so we are very desperate for the kids to compete [this year],” said George Stainton, South African National Climbing Federation secretary-general and an IFSC board member.

“[The struggle is] to get a visa appointment. Even if you apply for an expedited visa appointment, you can’t get it. The first appointment date was scheduled for some time in February or March 2023.”

With the 2022 IFSC Youth World Championships starting in late August, March 2023 is far too late for a visa appointment for the young climbers.

The process

The process of acquiring visas for the team started once the teams had been selected at the beginning of the year. “We had our national selections in March and then we made the team and since then [everyone] has been trying to get appointments,” said Stainton.

A climber competes in the national championships in Cape Town in March 2022. (Photo: Facebook / South African National Climbing Federation)
The South African National Climbing Federation’s national championships were held at Bloc11 in Cape Town in March 2022. (Photo: Facebook / South African National Climbing Federation)

The climbers are all awarded Proteas colours through the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee.

According to Stainton, Climbing SA has exhausted its efforts, including reaching out to the US consulate and applying pressure on the embassy.

“For the kids to have a third year of not being able to compete, it will be bad for our sport and mentally it’s not going to be good for the kids,” he added. DM

Gallery

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  • I often wonder what administrative staff do at the foreign embassies, be it American, United Kingdom or others. Our foreign embassies are probably a LOT worse. A son of mine who works in the United States and who completed post-grad studies at Stanford University has to return to South Africa to renew his visa at the United States embassy in Capetown. To do this he needs a new South African passport. His application, for a new passport, was forwarded to the South African Embassy in Washington on December 1st 2021 ! No replies to emails to date, nada !

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