Omar McLeod, Jamaica’s most decorated male athlete save for Usain Bolt, will not be in Birmingham this weekend (March 1-4) to defend his world 60m hurdles title.
McLeod, according to information reaching Trackalerts.com, was looking forward to the competition, but his management team is of the belief that if the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) had handled things better, he would have been able to make the trip.
McLeod’s agent/manager, Claude Bryan, in written correspondence, requested the JAAA to assist the athlete with a invitation letter to secure a UK visa.
Bryan made the request because, according to him in the letter to the JAAA on 15th of February, “Per the JAAA rules, the top two (2) athletes (assuming they are in good standing with the Federation) in their event with the standard are to be selected.
Bryan continues, “To date, Mr. McLeod, the 60mH defending champion is the fastest Jamaican and the second fastest in the world and there is not another Jamaican within two-tenths of a second! Now I am not aware of Mr. McLeod being out of favor with the JAAA and there is no way that two Jamaicans will surpass him on the list this indoor season. The question then becomes why, despite my numerous inquiries, a letter of invitation cannot be afforded him so that he can secure his visa. I am copying the IAAF here in the likelihood they have overlooked a request from the JAAA for letters of invitation.”
Bryan also pointed out that by this time, McLeod had already secured a appointment date with a British Consulate.
“There is a five (5) day turn around which means, if he is granted the visa, he could get his travel document back just in time to make it to Birmingham right before the start of his race,” he wrote in the letter on the 15th of February.
“If we had waited one more day, it would be pointless applying. We are kindly asking therefore that a letter of invitation be provided by the latest tomorrow (Friday, February 16th) to assist in the application process,” he added.
Trackalerts.com has seen the JAAA email received by Bryan on Friday the 23rd of February.
The JAAA wrote in their correspondence: “In regard to the facts relating to the visa issue, we are usually issued with a letter by the IAAF after the entries have been made to enable the athletes to make the necessary application for visas.
The JAAA continued: “The team was selected on and the entries made on the 19th day of February, 2018.
We received the “visa” letter from the IAAF on the 18th day of February, 2018.
The JAAA said prior to receipt of the visa letter they received an email on the 20th day of February, 2018 from Bryan asking that McLeod be removed from the team.
Based on the communication between JAAA and Bryan, the association received the IAAF Visa invitation letter on the 18th of February, a day before entries were made. Bryan, according to the same communication, up to the 20th when he indicated the withdrawal of McLeod, had not heard from the JAAA.
Bryan said: “It showed that the JAAA got the letter of invitation from the IAAF on February 18th yet sat on it for two days knowing we urgently needed it for an appointment early the next week (last week). Surely by then the JAAA knew it was unlikely that two Jamaicans would run faster than (7.46) to knock him off the team.”
The JAAA, although not giving a time frame, said it had been trying to contact Bryan via the telephone number he provided, but were unable to do so.
Bryan, however, hit back by saying, “to say they cannot reach me is not accurate when my number is listed in my emails and you can leave a voicemail.”
The JAAA said it is well aware of the narrow window to obtain the visa and it was behind this, that they took steps to bring athletes to Jamaica to apply.
“This is much faster than trying to obtain the visas in the USA,” the JAAA wrote to Bryan.
Even though the JAAA written apply was three days after McLeod’s withdrawal was communicated, Bryan expressed his disappointment.
“It shows the very first time nine (9) days before the Championships that the JAAA is informing us to come to Jamaica for visa – so for Mr. Blake to tell the public (that) athletes are coming to Jamaica without stating it was “a last minute thing,” is disingenuous.”