Priti Patel cancels Belarus basketball team’s visas for game in UK

The home secretary tweeted: ‘I have cancelled the visas of the Belarusian Men’s Basketball Team who were due to play in Newcastle tomorrow night.’

26 February 2022

Priti Patel has cancelled the visas of the Belarus men’s basketball team, who had been due to travel to the UK to play Great Britain before the game was postponed.

The International Basketball Federation (Fiba) announced on Friday that the World Cup 2023 European Qualifier match, planned for Monday at the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle, would not go ahead due to “the current security situation”.

The Home Secretary then tweeted on Saturday: “I have cancelled the visas of the Belarusian Men’s Basketball Team who were due to play in Newcastle tomorrow night.

“The UK will not welcome the national sports teams of those countries who are complicit in Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of #Ukraine.”

In her tweet, Ms Patel indicated that the teams were due to play on Sunday rather than Monday night.

The PA news agency also understands that the Belarus team was not planning to travel to the UK after Friday’s announcement that the game was off.

Great Britain and Belarus had been due to play two matches – one in Minsk on Friday and the second in Newcastle on Monday.

Fiba first announced on Thursday that the Minsk game would be postponed before confirming the next day that the Newcastle game would also not go ahead.

Toni Minichiello, interim chair of the British Basketball Federation (BBF), said: “We thank Fiba for all their help and for understanding our concerns about travelling to Minsk.

“I would also wish to take the opportunity thank the BBF Board, GB Team Staff and Players for coming together and presenting a unified position.

“The safety of our players and staff are and will always be our primary focus.”

Alongside Monday’s game in Newcastle, Fiba also announced that a fixture between the Netherlands and Russia, set to take place on Sunday in the Dutch city of Almere, would also be postponed.

In a statement, Fiba said: “The decision is based on the evaluation of the current security situation.

“Fiba is closely monitoring the security situation in Europe, as players’ and officials’ safety remain Fiba’s primary concern.”

New dates for the sports fixtures have not been set.

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

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