COVID-19 cases, visa issues hit Guyana’s CAC Bodybuilding team
(See below statement by Guyana Body Building and Fitness Federation about the two bodybuilders who tested positive for COVID-19 and the numerous issues they face to reach El Salvador)
Visa Requirements Issues
After the information on the internet concerning visa requirements were checked and appeared misleading and confusing, the GBBFF sought the direct intervention of the El Salvador Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation and the Central America and Caribbean Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (CACBBFF) in answering the relevant questions and addressing the concerns raised.
The main concern raised was whether or not the Guyanese delegation needed a visa to enter El Salvador.
The answer to that concern was a resounding “No”. In fact, the GBBFF was informed that all that was required was for the members of the delegation to purchase a “Tourist Card” upon arrival.
Nevertheless, the GBBFF obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, under the signature of the Permanent Secretary, a correspondence, addressed to the relevant authorities in El Salvador, explaining that, if necessary, the members of the delegation will purchase their visas upon arrival in El Salvador.
The GBBFF, feeling secured after being told by the El Salvador Federation and the CACBBFF that there was no visa requirement for Guyana to enter El Salvador and after obtaining the said letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, sent four of its members to the Airport on the morning of the 10th day of August, 2021.
At the Airport the members, inclusive of Coach Videsh Sookram, was told by COPA Airline that they cannot board the flight because they require an El Salvador Visa.
This sudden change in events led to the GBBFF immediately contacting the CACBBFF for clarity on the matter, but for a prolonged period there was no reply from the CACBBFF.
The four members of the delegation then returned to their homes as the GBBFF tried diligently and industriously to find a solution.
Contact was made with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and all requested information about the team was submitted to the relevant authorities.
Eventually, the CACBBFF and the El Salvador Federation reached out to the GBBFF with an official document from the El Salvador Federation giving clearance for the eight athletes of the delegation to enter El Salvador, but did not include the names of the President of the GBBFF, its coach and other delegation members.
Immediately they were both contacted and informed that the said official document was missing five other names.
At this point, the GBBFF continued to follow up with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and also contacted the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport to ascertain if direct contact could have been made with the Immigration Ministry in El Salvador.
Nevertheless, the members of the delegation with, American Visa, travelled to El Salvador with American Airline and arrived at the Official Hotel at about 11:30pm (El Salvador time -two hours behind Guyana) on the 12th day of August 2021.
Other Countries Affected
Several other National Federations were in a similar or worst-off position as Guyana.
The Jamaica delegation arrived in Panama just to be told that they cannot board the COPA flight to El Salvador. After it was ascertained that three of the members of the delegation had American Visas those three members were allowed to board and arrived in El Salvador on the 13th of August, 2021.
The other members are still stuck in Panama awaiting some form of diplomatic relation to solving their unfortunate position.
Positive PCR test for COVID-19
As the GBBFF sought to fix the issue of the visa requirement two athletes, upon re-testing for the new flight, tested positive for COVID-19 and were not cleared for travel. As a result, the GBBFF team has been cut from eight athletes to six athletes.
Further, because the Coach of the team was with the said two athletes on their first trip to the Airport, he was advised not to travel even though he has a negative PCR test for COVID-19 because he can subsequently test positive.
Arrival of remaining athletes and delegation members to El Salvador
After a 23 hours journey that consisted of several delays and several connecting flights the delegation arrived in El Salvador. Competition gets on its way tomorrow (Saturday) after weighing-in and measurements are wrapped up today (Friday).
The President of the GBBFF will now assume responsibilities of Coach and Manager of the delegation, while already serving as its head of delegation.
The GBBFF, through its President, Keavon Bess, on the 13th day of August, 2021, has formally registered its disappointments with the CACBBFF and the El Salvador Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation and now awaits any recompense that will be made to the GBBFF.