FISU and Lake Placid 2023 staged a press conference before the Opening Ceremony of the Winter World University Games where they updated the media on the arrival of the 46 delegations due to compete ©ITG

Organisers of this year’s International University Sports Federation (FISU) Winter World University Games admit it has been a "struggle" to get athletes here due to delays in securing visas.

More than 2,400 athletes and officials from 46 nations are expected to participate in the Games in Lake Placid over the next 11 days.

But FISU secretary general and chief executive Eric Saintrond and Lake Placid 2023 executive director Ashley Walden conceded that visa issues had given organisers headaches.

Saintrond revealed that Kazakhstan were among the delegations to experience difficulties but praised the efforts of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) for helping to ensure participants arrived before the Games officially get underway here tonight.

"Games are complicated to organise, it’s not a small event," said Saintrond at the opening press conference to Lake Placid 2023.

"What happened a few days in the US was that 90 flights were cancelled and people lost their luggage.

"You have to manage all those things.

"That’s why it is not so easy to organise Games.

"I must say that Ashley and her team have done a great job in solving all those things.

"To bring all the people to Lake Placid was a challenge.

"Some countries had difficulties getting a visa.

"For some countries, they have to have an appointment with their embassy 400 days later.

"Of course, if you need to fly within weeks it is difficult.

"But the USOPC has helped us a lot and I would like to thank them for their assistance in helping athletes from different countries to be here on time for the Games."

Athletes from Croatia, Chinese Taipei, Haiti, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Philippines have yet to arrive in Lake Placid according to FISU ©ITG
Athletes from Croatia, Chinese Taipei, Haiti, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Philippines have yet to arrive in Lake Placid according to FISU ©ITG

When asked which countries had visa issues, Saintrond added: "It was not so easy with Kazakhstan.

"But not only because the US regulations, it’s sometimes that members are not very proactive to send the right documents and make the follow-up.

"If you have to make an appointment with the embassy and you don’t do it, of course you will be delayed with your visa."

Walden said Lake Placid 2023 also received support from Federal and State officials to help them overcome any obstacles in the preparations for the Games.

"These athletes have been preparing for this for years and it has not been easy, from the [COVID-19] pandemic to lots of political issues that have caused us visa delays," added Walden.

"It’s been a struggle for many nations to get here so we celebrate those athletes from the 46 nations that we welcome here in Lake Placid.

"On the visa side, the USOPC has given us tremendous support.

"They have Government officers and liaisons that supported us through the visa process and we were able to expedite a number of visas to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to compete here."

The Opening Ceremony is set to be staged at the Olympic Center this evening but FISU confirmed that six nations have yet to arrive.

A total of 1,050 athletes and 580 officials have made the trip to Lake Placid so far with a further 350 competitors expected to join them in the coming days.

FISU told insidethegames that representatives from Croatia, Chinese Taipei, Haiti, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Philippines have yet to arrive with the majority of those athletes coming in Alpine skiing and figure skating.

"It’s not always a question of the visa, but a question that maybe they start later in the competition," said Saintrond.

"It happens quite often that some teams that arrive a bit later."

Competition is due to officially start tomorrow and run until January 22.