Travel ban to NC forc­ing NY swim team to stay in Vir­ginia

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Local - BY MARK PRICE [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo is tak­ing a so­cial me­dia beat­ing over a state travel ban that will force New York stu­dent ath­letes to stay in Vir­ginia dur­ing the up­com­ing NCAA Di­vi­sion III Swim­ming Cham­pi­onships in Greens­boro, North Carolina.

“King Cuomo” -- as crit­ics are call­ing him on Twit­ter -- is be­ing ac­cused of pun­ish­ing his state’s stu­dent ath­letes in re­tal­i­a­tion for N.C.’s re­pealed HB2 “bath­room bill,” which sought to keep trans­gen­der peo­ple out of the re­stroom of their sex­ual iden­tity.

Cuomo told the New York Post that he left the ban in place be­cause the N.C. law that re­placed HB2 still al­lows “dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tices” against the LGBT com­mu­nity. Cuomo is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive or­der for the travel ban in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the New York Post.

But pub­lic out­cry con­tin­ues to grow over the bur­den on ath­letes, with New York State Sen­a­tor Pa­trick Gal­li­van telling Fox News: “These kids have worked a life­time to get to these cham­pi­onships. It’s in­ap­pro­pri­ate to make a po­lit­i­cal state­ment on the backs of these kids.”

The 13 swim­mers will “have to travel more than an hour from a ho­tel in Vir­ginia to the com­pe­ti­tion site” March 20-23, re­ported the As­so­ci­ated Press. (It’s about 50 miles from Greens­boro to Danville, Vir­ginia, just north of the state line.)

On Thurs­day, U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) notched up the po­lit­i­cal rhetoric with a press re­lease of­fer­ing to cover ho­tel bills in Greens­boro for the stu­dents, and ac­cus­ing Cuomo of us­ing the ath­letes as “po­lit­i­cal pawns.”

“Stu­dent-ath­letes shouldn’t be put at a dis­ad­van­tage...,” Walker said in a press re­lease. “We would be proud to have the SUNY (State Uni­ver­sity of New York) stu­dents stay in our great state.”

Other crit­ics of the ban noted irony in the idea that the ath­letes will be stay­ing in Vir­ginia at a time when mul­ti­ple top state of­fi­cials there are weath­er­ing scan­dals rang­ing from wear­ing racist black­face to al­leged sex­ual as­saults on women.

It has also been pointed out that there is a touch of hypocrisy in ob­ject­ing to the stu­dents sleep­ing in N.C., while al­low­ing them to com­pete in an event hosted by a North Carolina city.

“So re­peal of HB2 makes it okay for NC to host (the NBA) All-Star Game (and) ACC tour­ney, but swim­mers still can’t stay here? WHAT?” asked Di­ana Rugg of North Carolina on Twit­ter.

“Cuomo you aren’t pun­ish­ing North Carolina, you are pun­ish­ing stu­den­tath­letes who have done noth­ing wrong ex­cept chose to rep­re­sent a SUNY (State Uni­ver­sity of New York) col­lege,” tweeted Cole­man Ste­wart.

“Cuomo is dis­grace­ful,” con­cluded a Tweet by Bull Mann.

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