The travel ban placed on United States wrestlers, including Ohio State junior heavyweight Kyle Snyder and former OSU four-time national champion Logan Stieber, has been lifted, but a dangerous precedent might have been set.
On Friday, the Iranian government announced the country would not be allowing American wrestlers to compete as a response to President Donald Trump’s executive order denying Iranian visas. However, a Sunday report by the semi-official news agency Fars, quoted Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying the ban was lifted after a U.S. judge halted Trump’s executive order.
The ban would have kept Snyder and Stieber out of the Freestyle World Cup in Kermanshah, Iran.
On Friday, following a 32-12 dual meet loss to Penn State, Snyder and OSU coach Tom Ryan addressed the media about their general reactions to the initial order. While Ryan expressed his displeasure on the matter, he said having Snyder around for, potentially, the rest of the season is a big boost.
“These guys have huge dreams, huge goals,” he said. “And I think that that event is a good event for them to get some experience that they need. And also, it’s a great event. It’s a dual meet event … USA against the world, with our best guys over there. So it’s a really good event. The flip side for us is, we want him over there, but when you don’t have that, you have him in our lineup.”
Snyder, fresh off a gold medal victory at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix, will be competing in tournaments around the world during the four-year cycle between now and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. However, the ban would have effectively kept the Olympic gold medalist out of the World Cup.
When he talked to the US Wrestling on Friday after the ban was announced, Snyder was told to sit tight and remain positive.
“I heard about it (Friday morning),” Snyder said after the Penn State dual meet. “But, a couple of hours later I talked to US Wrestling, the people over there. And, they told me just to remain hopeful. The chances of us going are slim, but they said this could change any day.”
Sure enough, the slim chance proved to be much greater than anticipated, and Snyder, along with wrestlers like Stieber and former Nebraska standout Jordan Burroughs, will be allowed to compete.
Even though past bans have prevented athletes from certain nationalities from competing in tournaments in foreign countries, most recently from the Russian doping scandal, the Iranian ban is new territory. There were no positive drug tests or scandals.
Instead, there was a decision made by one government that displeased another which directly impacted a world competition.
In the future, barring any changes on the now stalled visa bans from Iran in the US, there might be little resistance in athletes from other nations traveling to other countries to compete in open tournaments. However, the impact on sports around the world could be catastrophic.
Countries like Sudan and Syria are notorious for having athletes compete in US events like the Boston and New York Marathon. If the executive order is to be revived in any way, these events might take a severe hit in the number of participants.
Returning marathon champion Mo Farah, who was born in Somalia, had some questions as to whether or not he would be allowed back into the country. However, it was later announced Farah could return.
In the NBA, players like Thon Maker and Luol Deng, both of whom were born in Sudan, went through some nervous hours contemplating whether or not they would be allowed to travel with their respective teams. Although they were eventually cleared, questions remained on what would happen next.
The ban has been controversial on both sides of the aisle, but if a ban on visas and travel from other countries is re-enacted, players and coaches from around the world who now live in the US might be out of a job and back to their native homes quickly.
For now, the sports and collective world will wait and see what happens next, as travel from the seven affected countries continues. But, the wheels have been set in motion for what could be a bumpy road for athletes and potential citizens across the globe trying to make it in the United States.