Wilson Roman is a 17-year-old from Venezuela who qualified to compete in the Boys 16-17 teen division at the 2017 CrossFit Games. Roman finished 12th in the Online Qualifier and was the first Venezuelan to qualify for the CrossFit Games in any age division, but his visa application to travel to the United States was denied last month.
Roman’s situation is not the first of its kind. Recently, a team of Afgan girls was denied visas for an international robotics competition. Following public outcry, President Trump intervened and granted permission to come to the United States to compete.
And of course we all remember Sam Briggs’ last minute visa approval last year.
Roman was connected with Houston, Texas-based coach Connor Martin, who has worked with him via video conferences. Martin has helped Roman in both CrossFit and working to get a visa. Martin got a plane ticket for Roman to travel to Caracas, Venezuela, to visit the U.S. embassy. After an interview for a combined tourist/business visa on June 15, Roman’s application was denied one hour later.
While the U.S. embassy does not provide a reason for a denial of a visa, some believe it was due to concern that Roman would seek asylum once in the United States. Venezuelans seeking asylum have skyrocketed over the past two years and accounts for the most of any other country.
Martin told the Houston Chronicle, “He (Roman) has no plans to stay here. He wants to get the chance to compete. For him not to get that opportunity would be a real shame.”
The State Department has said that there is no rule against applying again. With just 18 days until the start of the CrossFit Games, time is running out for the Venezuelan teen.
Martin has taken to Facebook to raise awareness of the situation and to ask others for help and advice.
A GoFundMe page was created earlier and has subsequently closed. The page raised $810 for Roman to travel to the States to compete in Madison. Let’s just hope he can make the trip!