U.S. President Donald Trump's ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries has angered many in the world of sports, left some athletes uncertain of their ability to travel and threatens to impact athletics beyond American borders.
Thon Maker, the NBA rookie from South Sudan who attended high school in Orangeville, Ont., played a game for the Milwaukee Bucks in Toronto against the Raptors on Friday night. But he had no idea if he would be allowed to re-enter the United States afterward given Mr. Trump's controversial and sweeping executive order signed earlier in the day that also banned refugees from entering the country.
Mr. Maker, 19, had a couple of nervous hours after the game, but cleared U.S. Customs without problem and started Saturday night's game for the Bucks in Milwaukee against the Boston Celtics.
"I appreciate all the fans' concerns and prayers for Thon," Bucks' senior vice-president Alexander Lasry wrote in several messages addressing the situation on his Twitter account.
"And today, a Sudanese refugee who fled oppression and is an incredible young man will make his second NBA start," Mr. Lasry wrote. "I'm incredibly excited and proud of him. He's a symbol of what makes America great and all immigrants believe about America. …
"We must continue to share the stories of incredible immigrants and refugees who make America GREAT."
Sudan is one of the seven countries subject to Mr. Trump's immigration ban, along with Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
Mr. Maker, who was born in the North African country but holds an Australian passport, spent two years attending prep school in Orangeville before he was a first-round draft pick into the NBA last year.
Mr. Trump's travel restrictions have angered a number of athletes, including former Canadian NBA star Steve Nash.
"Freedom and liberty packing up their things … " the Victoria native wrote on his Twitter account.
Mohammed Nazr, a practising Muslim and a former NBA player, also sounded off on social media.
"It's a tough day when u find out that so many ppl that u thought were fans or friends really hate u and everything u believe in," Mr. Nazr posted on Twitter.
U.S. soccer captain Michael Bradley, who plays for Toronto FC, wrote on his Instagram account that he was "sad and embarrassed" by the order.
Mr. Bradley, whose TFC teammate, defender Steven Beitashour is an Iranian-American, said his view was sparked by an earlier interview with Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, who asked him about his thoughts on Mr. Trump's ban.
"A very fair question," Mr. Bradley wrote on Instagram. "But one that caught me totally off guard. Uncomfortable giving such strong thoughts without really being able to think them through, I gave an answer where I tried to make it clear that while I understand the need for safety, the values and ideals of our country should never be sacrificed.
"I believe what I said, but it was too soft. The part I left out is how sad and embarrassed I am.
"When Trump was elected, I only hoped that the President Trump would be different than the campaigner Trump. That the xenophobic, misogynistic and narcissistic rhetoric would be replaced with a more humble and measured approach to leading our country.
"I was wrong. And the Muslim ban is just the latest example of someone who couldn't be more out of touch with our country and the right way to move forward."
Mr. Trump's executive order suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of the seven predominantly Muslim countries.
The National Basketball Association released a statement on Saturday night saying it is trying to clarify the situation as it might pertain to players like Mr. Maker and Luol Deng of the Los Angeles Lakers, who is also a native of Sudan.
"We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries," the NBA said. "The NBA is a global league and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world."
Mohammed Ahmed is a Somali-born Canadian long-distance runner who competed for Canada at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
The 26-year-old, who resides in St. Catharines, Ont., retweeted a poem entitled Refugees by British Twitter poet Brian Bilston.
Long-distance runner Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion and a British citizen born in Somalia, lives with his family in Portland, Ore., and is currently training in Ethiopia. He is unsure if he'll be allowed back.
"I was welcomed into Britain from Somalia at eight years old and given the chance to succeed and realize my dreams," Mr. Farah posted on Facebook. "… My story is an example of what can happen when you follow polices of compassion and understanding, not hate and isolation."
The United States hopes to land the 2024 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and soccer's 2026 World Cup. It is unlikely Mr. Trump's immigration ban would help secure those bids.
Sunday night before the Raptors played Orlando in Toronto, head coach Dwane Casey said that the NBA celebrating the Chinese New Year was a message about diversity from the league.
"It's beautiful, especially with what's going on in the U.S right now, to celebrate diversity, no matter what culture it is, what nationality, doesn't matter, we all breathe the same air," Mr. Casey said.
With a report from Rachel Brady