The Russian national team of young weightlifters missed the 2019 IWF Youth World Championships in the United States this month as they were unable to obtain American entry visas, Maxim Agapitov, the president of the Russian Weightlifting Federation (RWF), told TASS on Monday.
The 2019 IWF Youth World Championships was held in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 8-15 and there were other national teams besides Russia unable to come to the United States due to problems with obtaining US entry visas, according to Agapitov.
"The federation [RWF] started its work on the application of visa documents for the youth championship well in advance and we have considered all possible variants of applying for US entry documents, however, it turned out to be impossible to receive visas," the RWF president said in an interview with TASS.
According to RWF Director General Alexander Kishkin, it was possible to apply for US visas before 2019 only in American Embassies located outside Russia, however, the inability of young weightlifters to travel abroad without being accompanied by legally authorized guardians only complicated that process. Moreover, the national team’s coaching staff objected to such way of obtaining the visas, saying that such long absence of young athletes would be harmful to their training process before the world championship, Kishkin stated.
In early 2019, Kishkin continued, the Russian Weightlifting Federation tried submitting visa documents with the US Embassy in Moscow, but the American diplomatic mission in the Russian capital offered the earliest possible dates for mandatory interviews only after the championship in Las Vegas would be over.
"A number of top national teams did not come to the United States for the championship and among them were the teams from China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Belarus, Ukraine as well as many leading weightlifters from other national teams," RWF President Agapitov continued.
"However, despite the extremely low number of participants, the Americans and the head of the International Weightlifting Federation [IWF] keep denying the fact that the tournament in Las Vegas was a failure and its results are dubious," Agapitov said. "On top of all, the American weightlifting federation [USA Weightlifting] keeps declaring that weightlifters of all national federations were granted American visas."
The reported number of athletes taking part in the 2019 IWF Youth World Championships in the United States stands at 179 weightlifters representing 33 countries, while the IWF officially lists 190 national member federations. There were only three or four national entrants in some of the weight categories during the Youth World Championship in Las Vegas earlier this month.
"There are usually more registered entrants at Russian youth championships, not mentioning tournaments in Europe, where the number of registered participants exceeds the number of weightlifters taking part in the most recent World Championship," the RWF chief stated.
Agapitov added that Mohamed Yousef Al Mana, the president of the Asian Weightlifting Federation (AWF), sent a letter to IWF President Tamas Ajan expressing his concern over an insufficient number of participants at the 2019 IWF Youth World Championships in the United States and urged the global federation to draw relevant conclusions.