09.08.2004 Sports News

Angry Olympics' Fans Besiege Spanish Embassy

09.08.2004 LISTEN

Accra, Aug 09, GNA - Angry supporters of Ghana's contingent to the Athens Olympics Games on Monday morning embarked on a peaceful demonstration to register their protests over the decision of the Spanish Embassy in Accra to deny them visas to travel for the Games. The Spanish Embassy which has been mandated by Greece to issue visas on their behalf for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games rejected most of the applications requested by the Ghanaian supporters. According to a spokesman for the demonstrators, the Embassy was only ready to grant 200 visas out of the 1500 applications submitted. The demonstrators who begun their march from the offices of Doscar Travel and Tours, the accredited travel agency for the Games amidst drumming and dancing, carried placards with inscriptions such as "Maria Plaza, go away", "To cheer our athletes is our right", "Greece is not Spain", "Going to Greece without us is no going" and "No visa, No vote, No NPP". The angry fans numbering over 200 first presented a petition to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after which they marched to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS) to present another petition. The fans later besieged the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and met the absence of the two substantive Ministers. Their petitions were consequently received by Mr Francis Tsegah and Mr Lesley Kojo Christian Supervising Directors at the Ministry. Presenting their petition to Miss Elizabeth Ohene, Minister in Charge of Tertiary Education, Mr Evander Geraldo, leader of the demonstrators and Chief Executive Officer of Doscar Travel and Tours wondered why they were refused the visas by the Spanish Embassy since they have fulfilled all the necessary requirements. Mr Geraldo said the embassy requested for a round ticket for each fan, hotel reservations and games tickets for all the 1,500 fans and he was therefore surprised at the decision of the embassy to grant them only 200 visas.

He said the Agency had so far spent about 3000 Euros as non-refundable hotel and flight reservations for the 1,500 fans and stated that the Spanish Embassy would have to refund all the monies to them if they are bent on denying them visas to watch the Games. According to Mr Geraldo, the 200 visas for the Ghanaian supporters was woefully inadequate for a 60,000 capacity stadium in Greece and that the number cannot fill the chartered flight for the trip.

He said the arrangement was that flight will carry 300 people per trip hence the reduction in the number of qualified supporters will make the company run into huge debt.

The Executive Director called on the embassy to grant them the visas since all the fans have been duly screened and have qualified to undertake the trip.

Miss Ohene called on the fans to exercise patience and allow the Ministry to handle the issue and come to a amicable solution. She said the Ministry would also find ways of seeking refund for the supporters should the embassy fail to grant the required visas.

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