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Ghanaians denied visas for Olympics

11/08/2004 05:21:13 AM Comments (0)

Hundreds of Ghanaian sports fans filled the streets of the capital Accra angered that they were denied visas to support their national athletes at the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens.

The Spanish embassy in the west African state, which handles consular affairs for Greece, denied visas to 1,300 of the more than 1,500 Ghanaians who applied to go, all of whom were reportedly prepared to pay up at least $US3,300 ($A4,630) for the privilege.

Spain's ambassador to Ghana, Jorge Montealegre, said that none of the applicants fulfilled the requirements under the Schengen treaty, an accord that harmonises border controls within much of the European Union, in a letter published in the Daily Graphic.

He said it was on good faith that the 200 visas were granted, since the usual personal interview requirement was dropped owing to time constraints.

"The figure was reached out of the embassy's desire to ensure that Ghana's Olympic team has supporters cheering them in Athens," Alegre said.

A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested many visa-seekers had been looking for a way out of Ghana.

"Do you think Ghanaians who applied and who are earning under 170 dollars a month were going to pay more than 3,300 dollars just to support the Ghanaian team?

"Will they come back? Certainly not," the diplomat said.

Tour organiser Evander Geraldo of Doscar Travel and Tours was also angry, saying he had chartered a plane and paid more than $US200,000 ($A280,445) in hotel deposits in Athens.

"And how are we going to get our money back?" he asked.

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