Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda top elite athletes that were destined to battle for honors at the 47th edition of the Tartan Ottawa International Marathon missed out due to visa hitches that were not approved on time.
A total number of 23 athletes, 14 women including Ethiopia’s record holder Gelete Burka missed out on the start line on what the race organisers termed as “languishing.”
The 28-year-old was the winner of 2018 edition with a course record time of 2:22.17.
Burka was so disgruntled as she expressed their dismay with the situation noting that they had applied for the visa in advance.
“I don’t know what happened. I applied for a visa. I have been training for this for eight months. I am very disappointed as everyone has been helping me prepare for this race,” said Burka.
On the other hand, nine men from Ethiopia and Kenya will not participate in the race due to visa restrictions.
The organisers of the prestigious annual event have received backlash from international media outlets that have highlighted the situation and urged the Canadian government to correct the mishap.
“What agent is going to want to commit to a Canadian event when this is going on? Canada has to correct this very quickly,” international sports journalist, Paul Gains stated.
The chief executive director of Race, Ian Fraser, said he had been alerted to the fact that visas for elite runners from Ethiopia and Kenya had been “languishing.” “It’s been disheartening for us. It’s a different world, but it’s difficult for us,” he said.
In 2018, Burka won the $40,000 top prize plus a $10,000 bonus for setting the race course record.