Date: Wednesday, 02 August 2023
Biniam Girmay won the silver medal in the 2021 Men’s U23 World Championship Road Race. Photo: © Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images
THE UK Government has denied a visa to one of the world’s top cyclists, meaning they will not be able to take part in the world championships in Scotland, according to reports.
Biniam Girmay, who in 2022 became the first Black African cyclist to win a Grand Tour stage at the Giro D’Italia, is one of four cyclists who have been barred entry to the UK, according to Global Cycling Network.
Girmay is considered a contender in the elite men’s road race, which is due to begin in Edinburgh at 9:30am on Sunday, August 6, and finish in Glasgow late that same day.
He won the 2022 Gent–Wevelgem road race, an event on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) tour which has been held in Belgium annually since 1934.
Along with his fellow Eritreans, Natnael Tesfatsion, Merhawi Kudus, and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, Girmay has reportedly been denied a UK visa.
Three others on the Eritrean team, Natnael Berhane, Henok Mulubrahn, and Dawit Yemane, have been given visas which will allow them to compete at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, billed as the biggest cycling event ever.
Campaign group Africa Rising Cycling wrote on Twitter: “To confirm, we have just spoken with one of the riders affected, and the story is true.
“All four (currently) do not have visas to race on Sunday … Let’s hope UK gov sees sense. These are all professional, top level athletes.”
The group added separately: “Shame on the UK for denying these professional top level athletes access to the very top stage of our sport.”
The championships will be held across Scotland, but primarily in Glasgow, from August 5 to August 13.
The Home Office said it had received multiple calls about the case of Girmay and his teammates and would respond in due course.
Hope is not lost and there is a chance the four cyclists may still be awarded visas in time. They were planning to arrive in the UK on Friday, according to Global Cycling Network.