Puerto Rico WMA entry disaster?
WMA reports: “The last day for entries to the XV WMA World Masters Championships in Carolina in July has been extended. The last day is now April 30 without any extra penalty fee. The LOC will still accept late entries up to May 31 with a penalty fee of USD 50:- after April 30 and up to May 31. The LOC has sent out a letter to all WMA Affiliates re this change. In this letter it is also strongly underlined that all athletes who must have a visa to enter USA must apply immediately. On the Carolina website all information re the visa procedure is given.”
This deadline extension follows an earlier one for USA athletes — from March 7 to April 7.
Two years ago, upon noting the entry deadline extension for Brisbane WMA, I speculated that the local organizers were worried about a shortage of entries.
Not long after, Jacey Octigan of the Brisbane meet replied, and said the deadline was delayed because of a South American postal strike and visa problems. At the time, Jacey put a happy face on the problem and predicted that 6,000 athletes would show for the meet. In fact, fewer than 5,000 did — the smallest turnout since Turku, Finland, in 1991.
Now Puerto Rico is showing concern. But visa and postal problems will be the least of its concerns. With war on the horizon, gas prices soaring (for airlines too) and the usual summer sizzle forecast for Carolina, P.R., turnout for the 15th World Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships could be dramatically depressed. Throw in the fact that this summer’s Eugene USA nationals and the Pan-Pacfic Masters Games in Sacramento offer low-cost (and in Oregon’s case better weather) alternatives, you have a recipe for disaster, attendance-wise.
The meet Web site grandly predicts: “The Championships are expected to attract over 8,000 visitors from 138 countries to Carolina.”
I would be surprised if Puerto Rico attracts more than 4,000 masters athletes — representing 60 nations or fewer. This would be the lowest number in more than 20 years. On the bright side, your chances of making the finals or medaling have never been better!
But for the international masters movement, this potential decrease in turnout for our most important meet spells doom.