The first youth baseball team from Africa to advance to the Little League World Series has been denied visas to enter the U.S.
The U.S. Department of State said the Uganda team’s documentation contained discrepancies and informed officials at Little League headquarters in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, that their decision was final, league spokesman Steve Barr said in a telephone interview.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said today at his daily news briefing that denying the visas was “a very difficult situation, but our consular officials are committed to holding up U.S. law.” He said he couldn’t discuss individual cases.
“I can assure you that consular officers examined each of these individuals and accorded them every consideration under the law,” Toner said.
Toner said each player’s application was examined individually and they were each interviewed. He said he didn’t believe that consulate officials were concerned the Ugandan players would try to stay after their visas expired.
The Rev. John Foundation Little League team from Kampala, Uganda, won the Middle East and Africa regional tournament with a 6-4 win over the Arabian American Little League team from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on July 16.
“It is unfortunate, as we were very much looking forward to welcoming the first African team to the Little League Baseball World Series,” Stephen D. Keener, president of Little League Baseball and Softball, said in a statement. “We are going to have to take a few days to evaluate all our options, and decide how best to move forward.”
The World Series begins in South Williamsport on Aug. 18 and concludes Aug. 28.
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