Breaking: International Athletes Cleared to Travel to US for CrossFit Games

July 1, 2021 by
Photo courtesy of CrossFit LLC.
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International Games athletes are breathing a sigh of relief after receiving an email Wednesday night stating that the United States Department of Homeland Security has authorized a National Interest Exception (NIE) travel waiver to participate in the CrossFit Games. CrossFit Home Office had been lobbying DHS for weeks to get clearance for athletes in restricted countries to travel to the U.S.

Why it matters: One in four qualified athletes, and one in three teams resided in a restricted country, unable to travel to the U.S. without an exemption. After learning that CrossFit HQ was not going to backfill for athletes that could not attend the Games due to COVID restrictions, we were left with a big question mark as to what the Games field would look like without many athletes from abroad.

Here’s the breakdown of athletes and teams who live in countries currently restricted from traveling to the U.S. without an exemption:

  • Men: Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson, Andre Houdet, Guilherme Malheiros, Uldis Upenieks, Jonne Koski, Henrik Haapalainen, Giorgios Karavis, Sam Stewart, Adrian Mundwiler and Jason Smith.
  • Women: Annie Thorisdottir, Gabi Migala, Larissa Cunha, Thuri Helgadottir, Kristin Holte, Emilia Leppanen, Jacqueline Dahlstrom, Laura Horvath and Emma McQuaid.
  • Teams: Fourmixx Brazil, Eikestad Mighty Oaks, CrossFit Nordic, Team CrossFit Holistic, Motion, Team Butchers Lab T-Bone, Bergen Limitless, CrossFit Oslo Wolfpack, The Athlete Program, From the Port, Team CrossFit Genas, and AOD Fitness.

One big thing: Athletes can also bring a plus one. Whether that’s a significant other, a coach, a physical therapist, they will now have the physical support of someone as they compete on the biggest stage in Crossfit.

The details: In the email, athletes were informed that CrossFit has received approval from the DHS for “National Interest Exception travel waivers.”

  • Athletes need to act fast: To get a stamp of approval from the DHS, athletes must fill out a form with their updated information. Without this, they may not get cleared to travel in time.
  • Athletes need to pass a background check: Once that goes through, CrossFit will reach out to confirm.
  • If cleared to travel, athletes that need a US visa or ESTA clearance should apply immediately.
  • Athletes must provide a negative COVID test and of course, abide by all CDC guidelines.
  • All of the above applies for the athletes’ travel guest as well.

The big picture: Representation from international athletes is crucial to the integrity of the sport. If we are going to crown the Fittest Man and Woman on Earth, it’s imperative that the playing field is full of those who qualified.

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