The UK government has been branded “ridiculous” for refusing to allow an elite athlete from war-torn Ukraine to participate in an upcoming competition in Edinburgh.
Danyil Boldyrev, a past world-record holder who will compete in the 2020 Olympics, expected to take part in the European Championship for Sport Climbing in Edinburgh next week.
The elite athlete has been refused a visa by the Home Office, who claimed Mr Boldyrev had been refused a visa in 2010 for a youth championship and failed to disclose this in his latest visa application.
However, the International Federation for Sport Climbing (IFSC) has confirmed that Mr Boldyrev competed in the 2010 championship and provided evidence he was granted a visa at the time.
SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald has written to the UK government asking them to urgently reconsider the application.
Commenting, Mr MacDonald said, “This appears to be a ridiculous decision by the Home Office.
“Scotland has a fantastic reputation as a host for sporting competitions – but blocking top competitors from attending risks serious reputational damage.
“Sadly this is not the first time this heavy-handed approach by the Home Office has blocked international performers from attending cultural events in Scotland.
“The UK government need to look at this urgently and sort this visa mix-up.”
Danyil Boldyrev said, “I would like to admit that I will be the happiest man if I get a visa and a chance to participate in the European Championship in Edinburgh.
“I am just a sportsman from Ukraine, who after the war, which is still going on for over 6 years, continues to be an athlete and coach children from all over the world.”
Colin Knowles, Secretary-General of IFSC Europe said, “Danyil Boldyrev is an outstanding competition climber, a world-class contender with an astonishing record of podium placings on international speed climbing events over the last decade. His achievements are all the more amazing once you understand that he comes from war-torn eastern Ukraine.
“I was horrified when I heard he may miss the European Championships due to a visa mix-up at the Home Office. Let us hope they deal with this oversight rapidly and Danyil can play his full part in the intense competition at Ratho next weekend.”