In September 2017, Los Angeles is expected to be awarded the bid to host the Olympics in 2028. That is because it is the only country that is bidding to host. Although a small section of Los Angeles’ residents are opposed to this due to the financial demands on the city, the bulk of opponents can be found outside the country for a totally different reason.
That is because there are fears very few people will be allowed entry into the country when the Games come around.
The United States has been tightening its borders daily for a couple of years now and the election of Donald Trump is set to make it increasingly difficult. His administration has already introduced entry restrictions on citizens from certain Muslim-majority countries.
And with the rise of nationalism and populism across much of the western world, it is unclear if significant changes to migration restrictions would be relaxed.
That is because not only will spectators find it extremely difficult to gain visas to attend the Games, athletes may be severely affected.
As such, it is imperative for the International Olympic Committee to devise a way in which the travel restrictions would be solved for ahead of the Games or the unpopular move of taking the Games away from the US.
The philosophy of the Olympics Movement is one that promotes togetherness and unity of the world’s people regards of demographic differences such as gender, colour or creed.
This is superbly exhibited with the logo of the Games, which are five interlocking rings of different colours to represent the five continents that feature at the Games; Africa, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. And that idea of unity will likely suffer a major blight if concerns about travel are not resolved.
Russia presents a great opportunity and model for which other hosts of sporting events such as the Olympics could learn from and follow.
Ahead of the 2018 World Cup scheduled to take place in Russia, the world’s largest country is considering introducing a scheme that will allow football fans with tickets to matches to enter the country to watch the games without visas for the period. The move is not only set to bring the world together, Russia is expected to make billions of dollars as revenue from all the people that would converge on its streets to watch the beautiful game.
This presents an opportunity for the IOC to also negotiate for all host countries to accept athletes and fans on visa-free for at least the period of the Games.
If this is done, I am confident that the unifying power of sports would not be derailed by our man-made borders.