ATR First: Visa Issues Cloud Cuba's Trip to Florida

(ATR) The World Baseball Softball Confederation is working to ensure the Cuban team can play in Olympic qualifier.

(ATR) The World Baseball and Softball Confederation confirmed the uncertainty surrounding Cuban participation in the Olympic Baseball Qualifying Tournament of the Americas in Florida in two weeks due to the visa situation.

"All we can say at this time is that the WBSC is still working with the Cuban Baseball Federation to finalize the details of the trip," said an official of the baseball entity in charge of the event beginning May 31 that will award an Olympic ticket to Tokyo for one team.

"There is nothing confirmed yet," the source clarified, referring to the granting of visas by the United States Government.

On Monday the Cuban Federation sounded the alarms that the island's delegation still did not have the permits to enter the United States after the South Florida press reported surprisingly that the visas had been collected by Cubans in the American Embassy in Havana.

Alternative digital sites recalled that since 2017, most consular services in the US embassy in Cuba have ceased and even at the government level the issuance of visas during the Trump Administration was practically nil.

"Until now, no visa has been granted to any of the members of the Cuban delegation to the #baseball pre-Olympic of the Americas," said the message from the National Federation published on the social network Twitter and reproduced by the official site of the state Institute sports (INDER).

"The procedures are in progress. As the host country, the #EEUU [US] government has the responsibility of facilitating the presence of all countries," said the official note.

Originally, it had been announced by Cuban officials that the delegation would make a stop in Mexico to manage the visa procedures before traveling to the United States, as happened last March before the Pre-Olympic in Arizona was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuba is one of the eight countries registered for the Olympic qualifier to be played in West Palm Beach and Port St Lucie. The winner will get the fifth Olympic ticket and the second and third place finishers will travel to Chinese Taipei for the final qualifier beginning on June 16. Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Israel are already qualified.

Written and reported by Miguel Hernandez

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