Trump’s Travel Ban and the Athletes it Could Affect
With President Donald Trump issuing an Executive Order to completely halt any and all forms of travel between the United States and seven other countries (Iran, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya), the consequences have varied from minor incidents involving only a few players, to disastrous backlash causing future sporting endeavors with other nations in some serious doubt, especially events with Iran.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) was concerned about the future of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Luol Deng and Milwaukee Bucks’ Thon Maker, both from South Sudan (an independent nation from Sudan) and who both have dual-citizenship.
“There has been confusion over whether dual passport-holders would be affected by the order, but the latest guidance from the federal government appears to clear them for travel,” said Lester Munson (ESPN).
For the time being, it appears athletes with dual citizenship can travel in and out of the U.S. This is not the case for former college basketball stars J.P. Prince and Joseph Jones who play professionally in Iran. With the ban in place, they are unable to re-enter Iran and are stuck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“Jones and Prince both play for Azad University Tehran in the Iranian Super League and share Eric Fleisher as an agent. Fleisher said the two players were on a team-financed break in Dubai when Trump signed the order and could not return to Iran before the country issued its retaliatory ban,” said Scott Polacek (Bleacher Report).
Due to Iran’s retaliatory ban being issued almost immediately, both Prince and Jones could end up losing up to six figures’ worth in salary since they will not be able to finish out the season.
Another key impact this ban has so far is on U.S. wrestling. Iran banned all U.S. participants from the freestyle World Cup which takes place in Iran this month.
“The competition, one of the sport’s most prestigious events, is set for Feb. 16-17 in the western Iranian city of Kermanshah,” said Luke Meredith and Nasser Karimi (ABC Sports). “The U.S. freestyle wrestlers have competed in Iran since the 1998 Takhti Cup in Tehran, which followed an absence of nearly 20 years. Since then, Americans have attended Iran-hosted wrestling competitions 15 times. The Iranians have made 16 visits to the U.S. as guests of U.S.A. Wrestling since the 1990s.”
After a long history of U.S.-Iranian wrestling competitions happening in the other’s country many times, the travel ban has put this upcoming competition and possible future competitions in serious doubt. Iran seeing the ban as a direct threat, has closed off any and all sporting events with the U.S. as long as the ban stays in place, likely ending a sporting relationship between the two for the time being.
Currently, the travel ban has inserted a serious wedge between the U.S. and Iran causing immense tension between the two, and with Iran feeling increasingly threatened by the ban, it will have a major impact on sporting events with them in the future