May 28th 2017

World / Africa & Diaspora

Top Somali athlete Farah relieved after U.S. reinstates his visa

Farah, who moved to Britain aged eight, is at a training camp in Ethiopia as part of his preparations for August's World Championships in London, and is not planning to return to the US for a number of weeks.

By Thomas Matalangatmatalanga@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 31 Jan 2017 10:00 EAT

Mo Farah.

Britain's four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah says he is "relieved" he can return to his U.S. home after it was clarified that President Donald Trump's travel ban did not apply to him. Somali nationals are among those banned from travelling to the U.S. under the executive order issued on Friday which had applied to Farah, who was born in Somalia, until the announcement by the UK Foreign Office late on Sunday.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held conversations with the U.S. government on Sunday, and thereafter the Foreign Office advised British travellers that dual citizens were only affected if travelling to the US from one of the seven banned countries. 

"We understand from the statement released this evening by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the executive order will not apply to Mo, and we are grateful to the FCO for urgently clarifying the situation. Mo is relieved that he will be able to return to his family once his current training camp concludes." said a spokesperson for Farah, who has lived in Oregon for six years with his family.

The statement added that Farah, who had earlier condemned the policy, "still fundamentally disagrees with this incredibly divisive and discriminatory policy". Writing on his Facebook page earlier on Sunday, Farah had said: "On 1 January this year, Her Majesty The Queen made me a Knight of the Realm. On 27 January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien." Farah aged 33, called Trump's policy "divisive and discriminatory".

President Trump's executive order halted the entire US refugee programme and also instituted a 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Farah said he believed Trump's policy "comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice" and that his own story was "an example of what can happen when you follow policies of compassion and understanding, not hate and isolation".

Farah, who moved to Britain aged eight, is at a training camp in Ethiopia as part of his preparations for August's World Championships in London, and is not planning to return to the US for a number of weeks.

Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.





Stay Connected