USOC says government vows 'expedited access' for athletes

Los Angeles (AFP) - The US government has advised the US Olympic Committee (USOC) it will work to ensure "expedited access" for athletes and officials from all nations for international competitions, USOC officials said Monday.

With a new order from US President Donald Trump banning refugees from Syria and immigration for others from predominantly Muslim countries, protests at airports and on city streets continued for a third day.

Concern was immediate over how sports events with global fields might be impacted as well as if the immigration ban might hurt the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

"We have been specifically asked about the impact that the executive order could have on athletes and officials coming to the United States to compete," USOC chairman Larry Probst and chief executive Scott Blackmun said in a joint statement.

"Recognizing the extraordinary power of international sport to bring people together in a peaceful celebration of friendship, excellence and respect, the US government has today advised us that it will work with us to ensure that athletes and officials from all countries will have expedited access to the United States in order to participate in international athletic competitions.

"We appreciate your support and patience."

There was a rebuke of the immigration ban in the statement, with a focus on US values of diversity and the difficult road refugees face to reach safety in the United States even before Trump's order.

"Like the United States, the Olympic Movement was founded based upon principles of diversity and inclusion, of opportunity and overcoming adversity," the statement said.

"As the steward of the Olympic Movement in the United States, we embrace those values.

"We also acknowledge the difficult task of providing for the safety and security of a nation. It is our sincere hope that the executive order as implemented will appropriately recognize the values on which our nation, as well as the Olympic Movement, were founded."

American firms and business are some of the largest global sponsors of the Olympics.

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