Venezuelan Athletes: Seeking visa for a dream

Some sportspersons leave their delegations to escape the crisis and seek asylum in other nations

Venezuelan Athletes: Seeking visa for a dream

From Cuban to Venezuelan desertion

The Venezuelan crisis has affected all sectors of society, and sport is no stranger to this problem. This crisis includes not only the economic, but also the social and political spheres. Regrettably, delegations cannot participate in Olympic cycle qualifying events because they do not have the financial resources and, in some occasions, they are disqualified due to a "ski pass". In other cases, the delegations do not have travel expenses to pay for even a mineral water.

Leer en español: Atletas Venezolanos: Buscando visa para un sueño

This situation has generated demotivation in some athletes and sports federations, which have come to request the same President of the Republic the attention of these problems.

The most recent case of desertion of Venezuelan athletes, in search of a better future, took place last week, when the South American "A" Rugby Tournament category M20 was being developed. This event was held in the city of Asunción, Paraguay and was organized by the South American Rugby, an institution dependent on World Rugby.

Among the participating South American teams was the Venezuelan national team or "Las Orquídeas", as they are also known. According to information from the President of the Rugby Union of Paraguay, Mr. Nelson Mendoza confirmed that three Venezuelan youth rugby players decided not to return to their country. The athletes decided to stay in Paraguay, in search of better life opportunities, different from those they currently have in Venezuela.

One of the requests made by the players, to the highest representative of rugby in Paraguay, was the help before the chancellery of the South American country in processing documents as refugees and not as exiles. The petition exalts the desire to escape from the Venezuelan aggravated situation. The information was provided to Mr. Mendoza through the President of the Rugby Federation of Venezuela in a call done at midnight.

Apparently, these young people made internal contacts with Paraguayan rugby sports teams, so they apparently received job offers from the San José Rugby Club. The decision to stay was not taken in the heat of the moment, as it was consulted with their relatives, who gave the blessing to make the final decision. The critical situation in Venezuela has prompted young people to venture to look for work in Paraguay. So far, there has been no official pronouncement by the authorities of the Venezuelan federation.

The Venezuelan desertion in sport resembles the Cuban model in terms of the escape of a regime. The Cuban regime has been in charge of restricting the fundamental principles of human rights. The difference between the Cuban and Venezuelan delegations is that the latter are not composed of government officials who keep the entire technical and sports team under surveillance to prevent them from escaping. In the Venezuelan commissions, there is greater freedom to desert, even with the support and advice of the authorities of the same delegation.

Is sport the visa to fulfill dreams?

As well as the case mentioned - athletes fleeing from Venezuela - there are hundreds of them, not only in the sport’s context, but also in other sectors of Venezuelan society. Citizens seek to escape from the current situation, all for different reasons, but all of them converge on a single point: improving the quality of life.

History repeats itself as the defection of Cuban athletes in international competitions. Several examples of this were experienced three years ago at the Pan American Games, held in the city of Toronto, where a total of 28 defections of athletes were confirmed. Among these desertions there are those of two players who took advantage of a previous preparation in the United States and four rowers who left the competition venue. The latter crossed the Canadian border to go to the United States.

The list is endless, but the reality is that for the moment, Cuba and North Korea are the countries with the highest rates of sports defection in the world. Could it be that Venezuela will join these statistics?

A large number of athletes see sport as a visa to escape the crisis and achieve what their country has not allowed them: to dream to accomplish a quality of life like any other person in normal conditions.


Latin American Post | Gabriel Moros
Translated from “Atletas Venezolanos: Buscando visa para un sueño”

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