We’re just a few days away from the August 5 opening ceremony of the Rio Summer Olympics, but it seems that if reports are to be believed, then one country isn’t exactly playing fair when it comes to travel visas. No, we’re not talking about Russia (they won’t be there); we’re talking about Israel.
According to Munther Masalmeh, secretary-general of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, Israel has blocked the departure of Issam Qishta, the head of the Palestinian Olympic team. See, in order to actually get out of the Gaza Strip, travelers have two choices. They can apply for a travel visa through Israel to the West Bank (where departure from Jordan is possible) or they can go through the much less reliable Egypt exit.
Unfortunately, Qishta was the sole member of the 22-member Palestinian Olympic team that was still in the Gaza Strip. The rest of the team had been “camping” abroad for weeks leading up to the Games. Of course, that hasn’t removed any trouble. According to Masalmeh, the Palestinian Olympic team was also forced to buy new equipment in Brazil after their gear wasn’t allowed through the Israeli ports that are the sole entry point into the West Bank.
For their part, the Israeli authorities have claimed to be working hard to get Qishta the right documents to ensure that he is in Rio on time. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.