A Race to Freedom

By Robert Tuzzio, Sports Editor

In the days following President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for an extended period of time, athletes across the world have spoken out in opposition toward Trump. One of those athletes is decorated distance runner Sir Mo Farah of Great Britain. Farah was born in Somalia but moved to the UK when he was eight years old. A promising talent in the youth cross country circuit in England, Farah became a naturalized British citizen and went on to represent Great Britain in international competitions. At the 2012 London Olympics, Farah won both the 5,000 and 10,000-meter runs. Just this past summer in Rio, Farah successfully defended his 5,000 and 10,000-meter run titles and, in doing so, became just one of two athletes to win both titles in two Olympics.

Farah has lived with his wife and daughters in Portland, Oregon since 2014 and trains with the Nike Oregon Project, which houses some of the best track and field athletes in the world. Over the past few months, Farah has been training in Ethiopia while his family has remained in Portland. Following Trump’s executive order, it was initially stated that Farah would most likely not be able to return to his family in the United States for 90 days since he was born in Somalia.

Farah, who earlier this year was Knighted by the Queen of England, released a statement last week regarding the travel ban. In it he states, “It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home—to explain why the President has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice.” Farah goes on to say that when he was a child he was welcomed by the British people to realize his dreams of becoming a professional distance runner and that “[his] story is an example of what can happen when you follow policies of compassion and understanding, not hate and isolation.”

On January 30, the Foreign Office of the United Kingdom clarified that British nationals would be not be affected by the ban. While Farah is relieved that he will able to return to his family in Portland after his training camp in Ethiopia concludes, he still completely disagrees with the policy and finds it to be divisive and discriminatory. The controversy even prompted Mark Parker, the CEO of Nike, to issue a statement regarding Mo Farah. “Nike believes in a world where everyone celebrates the power of diversity,” said Parker. “Regardless of whether or how you worship, where you come from or who you love, everyone’s individual experience is what makes us stronger as a whole.”

Photograph Credits: Daily Mail

Categories: Sports

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