The Minister of Sports for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Rachid Madrane, said he had learned on Tuesday “with great dismay” of the US travel prohibition for French-speaking tae kwon do competitors. This happened at the very time when they were getting ready to leave for the United States of America (“the US”).
The Minister stated in a communiqué, “The conditions for this crackdown are unacceptable.”
“The athletes learned they were being kept out of the US, on the pretext of not having a visa. This was despite, however, having valid passports and visa waivers per the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).”
The Minister denounced, “The condition to hold a visa is a new requirement. The embassy had only informed the Belgian Tae Kwon Do Association of this the night before the delegation’s departure.”
The French-speaking sportsmen, Si Mohamed Ketbi and Mourad Laachraoui, can thus not participate in the US Open, the top major annual international tae kwon do competition. This is taking place in Las Vegas from January 31st to February 3rd, 2017.
Mr Madrane commits his “total support” to the sportsmen, excluded from an important competition “for motives which have still not been established.”
For the Socialist, “the intolerable regime” operated by President Trump and the new American administration as regards access to U.S. soil, cannot continue any longer. It is “built around nothing more than mistrust, inward-looking attitudes and conducted on an arbitrary basis.”
Mourad Laachraoui, the European champion in 2016, is the brother of Najim Laachraoui, one of the suicide bombers in the Brussels attacks.