Palestinian runner barred from competing in Chicago Marathon invited to Turkey
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın on Sunday has invited a Palestinian athlete, barred from participating in the Chicago Marathon due to held later in the day, to come to Turkey and compete with the Palestinian flag.
In a tweet published from his official Twitter account, Kalın invited Mohammad Alqadi to run in Turkey.
Alqadi replied: "Thanks for the invitation. Love from Palestine to Turkey."
The visa application of the 27-year-old athlete was rejected by the U.S. Embassy in France on Sept. 27, 11 days before what is known as one of the most important global marathons.
A Palestinian refugee from Jenin in the West Bank who has been living in France since 2014, Alqadi has completed nine marathons in the last two years, holding the Palestinian flag to represent his occupied homeland and raise global awareness.
Alqadi was already on the participation list of the marathon, and told the Middle East Eye website that he met all U.S. conditions for a visa including work and residency in France. However, his application was rejected as embassy officials said in a letter that he failed to meet the requirements and that he will "return to a foreign country after a temporary visit to the United States."
He also said that he aimed to raise money for the Palestine Children's Relief Fund during the marathon.
The decision came amid the travel bans and restrictions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.
Listed as the fourth-largest marathon in the world by the number of participants, the Chicago Marathon is among the six World Marathon Majors and is listed among the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) Gold Label Races.
Turkey also hosts an IAAF Gold Label Race, the Istanbul Marathon, also known as the Eurasia Marathon, due to be held on November 12.