VENEZUELAN BOXER Eldric Sella Rodriguez will have to look for a new country to settle as he cannot return to Trinidad and Tobago, where he lived after fleeing his homeland in 2018.
His Olympic dream was ended within 67 seconds on Monday after Irish referee Diarmuid Macdiarmada stopped the men's middleweight (69-75 kilogramme) preliminary round contest and awarded victory to Dominican Republic’s Euri Cedeno Martinez.
The 24-year-old Sella was knocked down 15 seconds into the fight, but was able to recover before the referee’s count.
The Refugee Olympic Team boxer then endured a flurry of punches which forced Macdiarmada to stop the contest, 52 seconds later.
In an interview on VPItv, Sella's father Edward said,“Trinidad and Tobago denied the possibility of entering the country. He cannot return."
Edward continued, “Our passports expired and the renewal has been difficult. And the Government of (TT) says that it does not have a valid document to grant the visa."
To travel to Tokyo, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) managed to process him a visa that would allow him to transit through the United States to Japan, despite having an expired passport.
Now, the UN body is currently looking for a third country in which Eldric can settle with his family . “UNHCR is on the case. They are looking for a country that welcomes Eldric, me and his girlfriend,” said his father.
Sella sought asylum here in TT owing to years of political and economic unrest in his home country.
He worked alongside several local coaches and had been balancing multiple jobs to get by. After punching his Olympic ticket in early June, Sella was only granted approval from the Ministry of National Security to leave TT for Japan just days before the Games began on July 23.
Speaking to Olympics.com after his debut event, Sella said that competing at the Summer Games had been his long-time dream.
“There was not a day when I didn't think of going to the Olympics, when I didn't think about boxing. When I was mixing concrete, I was thinking how that would help me in my boxing career.
“When I was cutting grass, I was thinking how that will help me in my boxing career. When I was painting a house, or whatever I was doing, I always had in my mind what I wanted to do,” he said.
His appearance at the Olympic stage, though brief, left him wanting more. Sella has strong intentions of making a return to the stage at the 2024 Paris edition.
“How do I feel to be an Olympian? I don't know yet. But you will see me in the next Olympics and I will answer that question better. Right now I can't answer it,” he added.
In 2019, Sella boxed to silver at the TT Boxing Association’s Boxing Championship. Soon after, he was awarded an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Refugee Athlete Scholarship and eventually a place on the Tokyo 2020 IOC Refugee Olympic Team where he became its first Latin American member.