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An MMA fighter out of New Zealand is in danger of missing his upcoming bout at UFC 266 due to pending government approval of his visa. The process is currently derailed by NZ’s COVID lockdowns, cites Hooker.
According to an interview with Sporting News, Dan Hooker initially felt confident that his passport privileges would be a non-issue, but is now on the brink of desperation after weeks of radio silence. The lack of assistance is a byproduct of the country’s stringent Alert 4 mandates, which has left numerous travel requests gathering dust at the United States Consulate General in Auckland.
“Let’s just say it’s not the first time I’ve been in this exact predicament,” admitted Hooker.
“That’s just not something you’re stressed about. I take care of everything in my control and that’s something that’s completely outside of my realm of control. So therefore, you kind of just push it to the back your mind. I’ve put everything through the on right date. Hopefully she shows up within the next couple of days.”
The fighter attested to calling the embassy on a daily basis in order to confirm approval. He now has less to resolve the matter until his UFC bout.
Hooker approached a new angle and tweeted at US-NZ diplomat Kevin Covert to catch his attention and expedite approval alongside New Zealand officials.
Dan tweeted: “@USAmbNZ Hi Kevin, apologies for messaging on here but it’s a last resort / My visa is with the US embassy here in NZ as I fight next week in Las Vegas on #UFC266 / Update today is it won’t be approved until next week due to lock down which will cancel my fight. Please help.”
Hooker’s outreach gained momentum with the help of MMA fans, but Covert has yet to respond to the fighter’s last resort. If approved, Hooker will take on Nasrat Haqparast (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on Sep. 25 in Las Vegas.
New Zealand’s response to a spike in Delta cases since early August has been a “zero-COVID” policy. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called for a countrywide lockdown at the sight of single-digit COVID case numbers in August, and the strategy has now become a week-to-week evaluation — set to remain until they collectively reach zero COVID cases.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela