A taekwondo athlete with dual Iranian-Icelandic citizenship who competes for Iceland will be permitted to enter the United States for an event in Nevada this week, according to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Meisam Rafiei had boarded a plane in Reykjavik on Monday on his way to the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, but was asked to disembark after WOW Air personnel consulted with U.S. Homeland Security officials about the new executive order barring entry by citizens of seven majority Muslim countries.
Rafiei has been an Icelandic citizen since 2012 and was carrying an Icelandic passport with a valid visa, he told ESPN.
"Following coordination between the USOC, USA Taekwondo and U.S. government officials, Meisam Rafiei of the Icelandic national taekwondo team has been cleared to travel to the U.S. and participate in the upcoming U.S. Open in Las Vegas," U.S. Olympic Committee spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said in an emailed statement. "We're pleased to have successfully resolved this situation and look forward to continued collaboration with the government to ensure that athletes from around the world are free to compete in the U.S."
Rafiei said he has rebooked flights for Wednesday and will be able to compete as originally planned. USA Taekwondo executive director Keith Ferguson has been in touch with him and assured him he will be welcome at the event, Rafiei said.
"I am happy -- I will never forget this,'' said the 30-year-old Rafiei, a former world junior champion for Iran who competes in the 58-kilogram weight class.