A high-school basketball showcase set for March in Vancouver has been moved to California because of travel concerns sparked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Orangeville Prep, based northwest of Toronto, had been scheduled to play Prolific Prep, based near San Francisco, in Vancouver on March 18 in a game to promote elite high-school basketball in Western Canada. But Prolific Prep’s roster includes Abu Kigab, an 18-year-old Canadian from St. Catharines, Ont., who moved to Canada with his family from Sudan – one of the countries covered by the ban – when he was nine. He has dual citizenship.
The move is precautionary, organizers said. The immigration ban was blocked on Friday by a federal court, and Kigab, as a Canadian, should be allowed to leave and return to the United States. But the risk was considered too great.
Kigab, a star at Prolific Prep, has played for Canada’s junior national team and is ranked in the top 100 of graduating high-school players in the United States this year. In the fall, he will attend and play at the University of Oregon, currently home to a top college program.
Kigab’s family doesn’t want him to risk his education and career by coming to Canada, said Jesse Tipping, who organized the VanCity High School Basketball Showcase and runs Orangeville Prep.
“His family is not letting him back into Canada,” Tipping said. “They’re scared he won’t be able to get back. It’s not worth it to get stuck here.”
On his Twitter bio, Kigab states his identity as “Sudan, Canada, USA, University of Oregon Commit.”
Prolific Prep’s 13-player roster has seven Americans and six international players; besides Kigab, there are players from Ghana, Nigeria and Mali – countries that are not covered by the immigration ban.
In announcing the change of venue for the game, the team cited “uncertainties of our new and current administration in Washington as it pertains to foreign policy.
“We feel it is prudent to evaluate and wait for some of these new policies to either be upheld or dissolved by the higher courts in our country and make decisions after these policies are entrenched in stone,” Prolific Prep director of operations Philippe Doherty said in a statement. “We do not want to subject our kids to uncertainties and constantly changing foreign policies, so we are going to wait until we get more clarity.”
The game will be played in Sacramento and has been renamed the Cali vs. Canada Showdown.
The immigration ban has rippled through the world of sports. Olympic champion Mo Farah spoke out early on, worried that he would not be able to return to his family in the United States. The British distance runner was born in Somalia, one of the seven countries covered by the ban, and is currently training in Ethiopia. He was assured he would be able to return.
The U.S. Olympic Committee has been told by the U.S. government that international athletic competitions should not be affected, as athletes and officials from all countries should have access to the United States.
After the ban was announced, Canada quickly confirmed that dual citizens would not be targeted, as they can travel with a Canadian passport.Report Typo/Error