Commonwealth Games: Gambian athletes miss 100m amid visa woes

Gambian sprinters competing in the Commonwealth Games have missed out on the 100m after visa issues kept them from arriving in time.

The five are among a group of six Gambian athletes who have been held up in France where they were training for the competition hosted by Birmingham.

With issues reportedly resolved, the runners were set to arrive in the UK on Tuesday.

But it has proved too late for the 100m heats.

Missing out on the male heats – which began at 10:40 BST – were sprinters EbrimaCamara, AdamaJammeh, AlieuJoof and SenganJobe.

Female sprinter Gina Bass, one of The Gambia’s top athletes, was due to arrive in Birmingham shortly before 10:00 BST, with the women’s heats beginning later in the day, although she did not run.

It means they are ineligible for the latter stages of the 100m discipline.

Judo competitor Abdou Rahman Ceesay is the sixth member of the group who has faced visa difficulties.

“After missing on the 100m they will still have time to do the 200m,” said Gambia’s minister for sport, BakaryBadjie.

“Most importantly,” he added, was that the athletes were “able to come in and so we are happy.”

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed the athletes were eligible to travel into the UK. Mr Badjie said approval came on Monday night.

All six had been training in Paris for a year. It is unclear why their applications had not been finalised before Monday.

Mr Badjie said the athletes had applied on time and members of the delegation who travelled directly from The Gambia had made it to Birmingham without issue.

Mr Badjie added that Ms Bass and two other athletes had been granted travel clearance to arrive without a visa on Tuesday morning, while the remaining three were set to pick up visas in Paris and would travel later that day.

The 200m heats are held on Thursday. –BBC

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