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Netherlands Embassy denies Special Olympic team visa

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Accra, Mar. 13, GNA- The Netherlands Embassy in Ghana, has refused to grant the Ghana Special Olympic team visas, to enable to them participate in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.

     Ghana’s 20-man contingent who were scheduled to depart the shores of the country on Monday, March 13, were left in a limbo concerning their participation.

     The quadrennial competition, which was opened to children with intellectual disabilities, spans from 14-25 March.  

     Ghana was billed to participate in the floorball competition on Monday, March 20.

    According to a Board Member of the Special Olympic Ghana (SOG) Nana Wereko Ampim, the Netherlands Embassy refused them visa on the grounds that, they would not return to Ghana after the Games.

      He expressed disappointment over the unfortunate incident saying “it was sad  and  disheartening  that  the  Embassy would harshly  denied  athletes, who  have  been to United  States  for  similar  games, because they  were intellectually  disabled  without  proper  background  checks.

     “The  SOG Board was comprised of  reputable  professionals, who have dedicated  their  time  for  a good  cause  of  helping  the  intellectually disabled  persons  in  our  society”.

     Mr. Wereko-Ampim, said the behavior  from  the  Netherlands  Embassy has forced  the  president of  the Special  Olympic  Africa  and  the  world  body  to come  to  the  rescue  of  the  team  but  the  Embassy’s  posture  still  remains  the  same.

     On his part, though the president of  the Republic of Austria, His  Excellency  Alexander  Van  den  Bellen  has ordered  the  Netherlands  Embassy  to  Ghana  to  grant  Team  Ghana  the visas, the embassy has stack to their  discriminatory  position  to  the  plight  of  the  intellectually challenged  athletes  though  the  games were designed for  them.

     He disclosed that, the Embassy exempted Team Ghana from paying visa fees, after they submitted their travelling documents on February 2, 2017.

     He mentioned that, though they faced visa challenges, his outfit will continue to nurture and develop the potentials of the athletes as a way of integrating them into society in a meaningful manner.

     Mr. Wereko- Ampim therefore appealed to the government to come to their aid to enable the teams’ participation be fruitful.

     Ghana won four silver medals in  the  last  World  Special Olympics  Summer  Games  in  Los  Angeles  in  2015  after  winning  4 silver  medals  in  athletics and produced the second  fastest  woman  in  the  world  in  the  200m  when Princess  Ayin  of  Bator  Special  School  in  the Volta  region clocked 25sec.

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