Travel ban not expected to keep international athletes out of U.S. events

People protest President Trump's travel ban at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Within the Olympic movement, initial fears about President Trump’s travel ban appear to have eased, with sports leaders expressing confidence that athletes from around the world will be granted entry to compete in events held in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee — which usually tries to steer clear of politics — issued a statement.

“The IOC has been informed by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) about the pledge of cooperation it received from the U.S. government with regard to expedited access to the United States for athletes and officials in order to participate in international sports competitions,” the statement said. “The IOC welcomes the initiative by USOC and trusts that international competitions in the United States continue to take place in line with the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect’.”


Trump’s executive order temporarily bans citizens and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. But earlier this week, USOC officials said the federal government had “advised us that it will work with us.”

Meisam Rafiei, an Iranian-born taekwondo athlete who now lives in Iceland, initially faced problems traveling to this week’s U.S. Open in Las Vegas but, according to officials, has been granted entry.

Modern pentathlon and other sports have major events scheduled in the U.S. in coming months. Cycling will hold World Cup races at StubHub Center in Carson beginning Feb. 25.

There had been some question about whether Iran — which responded to Trump’s order by hinting at “reciprocal measures” — would admit U.S. wrestlers for the upcoming Freestyle World Cup in Kermanshah.

As of Wednesday, the U.S. team was planning to make the trip.

“Both national federations have expressed their interest to see the United States compete” in Iran, the international wrestling federation said.

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