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Athletes may be impacted by Muslim travel ban

Free Press wire reports | 2/10/2017, 9:21 p.m.
President Trump’s ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations could have a wide impact on international sports if the ...

President Trump’s ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations could have a wide impact on international sports if the ban is ultimately upheld by the courts, according to Jere Longman, a sports writer for The New York Times.

Major League Soccer has two American-born players with familial ties to two of the nations facing bans. Steve Beitashour of Toronto has played for Iran’s national team, and Justin Meram of Columbus has played for Iraq.

Four-time Olympic gold medal winner Mo Farah, born in Somalia, also was expected to fall under President Trump’s order barring citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the United States for the next 90 days.

President Trump has called his ban an effort to defend the United States from “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Although British with a British passport, Mr. Farah is a Muslim and would not receive priority now approved for Christians. Mr. Farah is training in Ethiopia right now.

Mr. Farah, who lives and trains in Portland with the Nike Oregon Project, posted on Facebook: “On 1st January this year, Her Majesty the Queen made me a Knight of the Realm. On 27th January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien.” … “I’ll have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home,” he said.

This week, Mr. Farah received an exemption to the ban from Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to President Trump. The exemption also will apply to other Brits, according to Flotrack.org.

Abdi Abdirahman, a four-time Olympian for the United States, was born in Somalia. He finished third in the 2016 New York City Marathon, a race that regularly attracts runners from around the globe.

The athletes currently are free to travel based on a temporary ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Robart in Washington State, whose suspension of the ban was upheld by a federal appeals court on Sunday, Feb. 5. But the suspension of the ban is now before a federal appeals court, which is expected to rule this week. But that ruling will be subject to the U. S. Supreme Court if the appeals continue. 

Other athletes awaiting clarification are NBA players Thon Maker and Luol Deng, both born in Sudan.

Mr. Deng, a forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, has lived in the United States for 17 years. His family fled to Egypt when he was 5 to escape the Sudanese civil war. Mr. Deng came to the United States when he was 14 and attended high school in New Jersey, and he later became a British citizen.

The 7-foot-1, 19-year-old Mr. Maker was born in Wau, Sudan, now part of the independent South Sudan, which is not on the banned countries list. Mr. Maker travels with an Australian passport.

He played his sophomore high school season at Carlisle School in Martinsville, Va., and competed in events at Trinity Episcopal School in South Richmond and Virginia State University.

He played his junior and senior seasons at Athlete Institute Basketball Academy in Orangeville, Canada. Bypassing college, he was the Milwaukee Bucks’ first pick and 10th overall in last year’s NBA draft.