As the toss of Gambian athletics and African 100m champion Gina Bass and other athletes continue to be stranded in France, without UK entry visa to the Commonwealth Games, questions are being asked why such a situation should happen in the first place by the Gambia National Olympic Committee which coordinates Gambia’s participation in the games.
Gina, Ebrima Camara and Adama Jammeh have recently been based in France preparing for the world championship, the Commonwealth Games as well as the Islamic Games. After the world games in Oregon USA, they returned to their base in Paris but could not travel to Birmingham up until last night because they have not yet secured entry visa to the UK where their events start tomorrow and Thursday. They have already missed the glamorous opening ceremony. Since reports of the plight of the top athletes emerged many Gambians have asked for explanations. The Standard yesterday contacted the chef de mission to the Games Bakary Jammeh who referred us to the GNOC officials. The GNOC media officer ML Saidykan was contacted but he too referred us back to the chef de mission. The Standard contacted the GNOC Secretary General Yoro Njie who said the delay had to do with protocols of involving British visa applications. He said both the Gambian sports and foreign ministers are trying hard to get them landing clearance or visas depending on what is possible as quickly as possible, and the hope is that they will be in the UK before their events start.
A retired sport official said the athletes concern have been busy travelling from one event to the other and have just returned from USA and may have very short time to process their visa applications. Our source referred us to a recent new policy on Gambians applying for UK visas announced by the Home Office last November which states; ”Visa applications from The Gambia would be subjected to further reviews and may take time”.
However, our source blames the GNOC for not making proper contingency plans. “If the officials’ visas are not delayed why are those of athletes not practised too,” he asked?
But according to SG Yoro Njie, the athletes’ visa applications were done on time