Given that African federations raised the possibility of visa troubles in Germany at the 2004 FIDE General Assembly, the Dresden organizers should have forseen the current debacles. Botswana is the latest of African nations to have visa problems to attend the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany. The tournament starts tomorrow.
The Chess Drum has reported that Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda had initially been denied admission by FIDE. That motion was rescinded, but now the federations are still having visa problems as was predicted four years ago. One day before the beginning of the games, Ethiopia is still scrambling to get visas and now reports are in that Botswana had experienced similar problems. Kenneth Boikhutswame told The Chess Drum that two members of the Botswana delegation had initially been denied visas.
The Dresden Olympiad has not been good for the Africans from a visa point of view. I managed to pass by the Bots camp last night and what came out was that two members of the delegation might not get visas. Tebogo Pitlagano and Alex Mpuisang (arbiter) were still to know their fate as I write this mail. In Alex’s case the story is that he has to have a proof of income. Even an offical letter from the Botswana National Sports Council to the German Embassy yielded no positive response. And this in addition to the saga about East African countries and Nigeria you reported in your website, African countries can rightfully point to the administrative constraints of Dresden 2008 as the worst in the history of chess for the continent.
Tebogo Pitlagano was granted his visa today, but Alex Mpuisang who was to be one of the arbiters for the Olympiad, was denied. “Isnt this enough a reason to grant him a visa, more so that Bots Sports Council made an official application? Even officials from our Foreign Affairs ministry contacted the embassy to no avail,” wrote Boikhutswame. Ironically, Mpuisang had finished the arbiter’s course conducted by CACDEC in August. There will have to be some discussion at the General Assembly about visa arrangements since the next Olympiad will be in yet another European country.