UNCLAS STATE 029789
FOR CONSULAR SECTION CHIEFS AND NIV CHIEFS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS, CMGT, KOLY, GR
SUBJECT: VISA APPLICATIONS AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES IN GREECE
Ref: Athens 299
1. The Olympic (August 13-29) and Paralympic (September
17-28) Games will take place this year in Athens, Greece.
Posts may see an increase in the demand for visas in the
months of July and August, as travelers transit the U.S.
(going either to or from the Games) or add U.S. stops to
their itinerary. For many posts, the student application
season will also begin around that time. Posts are
encouraged to contact local media, sports groups, Chambers
of Commerce and other contacts as appropriate with the
message to "Apply Early!" for potential applicants who
already know they need visas, particularly sponsors and
committee members. Posts should also consider adding this
information to their websites.
2. In addition to attempts to frontload applications
early in the summer, posts should plan to schedule for
late applications from many athletes, relatives and
support staff who will qualify just weeks or days before
the Games. Also, in the past, some Olympians and
committee members have mistakenly assumed that Olympic
accreditation or possession of an Olympic Identity Card
allowed unrestricted travel to the U.S.; consular officers
should use all available, appropriate channels to spread
the word that visas are still required for US travel.
With the future of TWOV uncertain, this is particularly
relevant for many WHA travelers who must transit the US en
route to or from Europe.
3. Reftel asked that consular chiefs also contact host
country National Olympic Committee (NOC) members with this
information. CA encourages all consular chiefs who have
such contacts to do so. Meanwhile, the Bureau of
Education and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is discussing with
the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) a strategy for reaching
the NOCs. The USOC, remembering problems encountered with
travelers departing the Dominican Republic and the Pan Am
Games following the suspension of TWOV, is keen to ensure
that all NOCs and the International Olympic Committee
(IOC) are well informed about the need for visas and is
exploring several options for doing so. CA will continue
to coordinate with ECA on the notification of the NOCs.