US visa backlogs may have dashed the Climbing South Africa youngsters’ championship aspirations. Now they face an uphill battle to reach the World Youth Championship.
The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Youth Championships will be held August 22-31, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
Climbing South Africa has selected six groups of girls and boys to participate, including members under 15, under 17 and under 19. But Team South Africa could miss the tournament due to the continuation Visa processing backlog at the offices of the US Embassy in South Africa.
The National Climbing Federation National Championships were held in March 2022 at CityROCK in Cape Town. (Photo: Facebook / South African National Climbing Federation)
It would be the third consecutive year that the South African youth team was unable to compete.
“Unfortunately because of Covid the boys have missed the last two years – 2020 and 2021 – so we’re very desperate for the kids to compete [this year]said George Stainton, Secretary General of the South African National Climbing Federation and Board Member of the IFSC.
“[The struggle is] to get a visa appointment. Even if you apply for an accelerated visa appointment, you cannot get it. The first appointment was scheduled for a longer period in February or March 2023.”
With the IFSC World Youth Championships 2022 starting at the end of August, March 2023 is far too late for a visa date for the young climbers.
After the teams were selected earlier in the year, the process of obtaining visas for the team began. “We had our national selection in March and then we made the team and have been since [everyone] was trying to get appointments,” Stainton said.
A climber competes in the national championships in Cape Town in March 2022. (Photo: Facebook / South African National Climbing Federation)
The South African National Climbing Federation National Championships were held at CityROCK in Cape Town in March 2022. (Photo: Facebook / South African National Climbing Federation)
The climbers are all decorated with the Proteas colors by the South African Sports Confederation and the Olympic Committee.
According to Stainton, Climbing SA exhausted its efforts, including contacting the US consulate and putting pressure on the embassy.
“If the kids can’t compete for a third year, it’s bad for our sport and it’s not good for the kids mentally,” he added. DM