MOSCOW, March 29. /TASS/. The US denial of entry visas to Russian wrestlers, who qualified for the international freestyle wrestling tournament in Iowa next week, is the country’s another blow not against Russian athletes only, but against the global sports as well, a senior Russian lawmaker told TASS on Thursday.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova announced on Wednesday that the US Embassy in Moscow refused Russian wrestlers in interviews, which are necessary to obtain American entry visas.
"The denial to issue entry visas to the Russian freestyle wrestling team is another blow not only in regard to Russian athletes, but the global sports as well," Mikhail Degtyarev, the chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs, said in an interview with TASS.
"This decision has bewildered the US athletes as well," the lawmaker said. "The lack of the consular staff or any other formal reason for denying visas to athletes speaks for the incompetence and the fact that the (hosting) country is failing to meet its obligations."
"It is high time for the international sports society to understand that athletes from any other country can be at any time in place of Russian athletes," Degtyarev stated.
The lawmaker said that the United States needed to take some lessons from Russia in how to organize international sports competitions.
"We have enormous experience in organizing tournaments of various levels," he said. "For instance, we have passed a law, which allows foreign football fans to enter Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup without entry visas."
"With a strong desire to annoy Russia, the United States is now bringing into a question its own ability of organizing major global sports events," the lawmaker added.
The 2018 UWW Senior Men’s Freestyle Wrestling World Cup is scheduled to be held on April 7-8 at Carver Hawkeye Arena in the Iowa City.