The exodus of Cubans fleeing from hunger, misery and the repression of the dictatorship of Miguel Díaz-Canel seems to have no limits and has set off alarms ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics, with the loss of champions, world champions and great leaflets.
“We will see a decrease in Cuba’s results in the Olympic Games, because renewing and replenishing the starts is not easy,” said a Cuban expert.
“An elite athlete is not trained in four, eight or ten years and giving title to second figures is not a guarantee of immediate success at the first level,” he added.
Last June, the triple jumpers Jordán Díaz, Andy Díaz and Pedro Pablo Pichardo, Olympic champion and current leader of the world ranking, took the podium in the Paris Diamond League, but none represented the island.
Last July, the Cuban Sports Institute (INDER) confirmed that the athlete Yaimé Pérez, a discus thrower, left her delegation in the United States, when she was participating in the 2022 Eugene World Athletics Championships, where Cuba had its worst performance.
As is customary in these cases, the institute described the flight as “serious indiscipline.”
Pérez, 31 years old and champion in Doha 2019, stayed on a layover at the Miami airport when she was returning to the island. The 19-year-old javelin thrower Yiselena Ballar did the same.
In March, canoeist Fernando Dayán Jorge, Olympic champion in Tokyo 2020, abandoned his group at a training base in Mexico.
According to the journalist Francys Romero, author of the book “Stories of the emigration of Cuban baseball (1960-2018)”, in the last three years more than a hundred athletes have left Havana or broken with the island’s federations, including Olympic stars of the stature of Juan Miguel Echevarría, Ismael Borrero and Andy Cruz.
In an attempt to stop the exodus, the Cuban regime in 2013 authorized its athletes to sign for foreign clubs.
The volleyball player Robertlandy Simón, who left in 2011 and one of those who has shone abroad, believes that his colleagues will continue to leave for economic reasons.
“They do not have the possibility of having a full life in our country and that possibility is given to them by other countries,” says the player, readmitted to the national team in 2019, after almost a decade playing in other leagues such as the Italian and the Brazilian.
In Cuba, even “demonstrating a lot of quality, you just don’t get what you want, your family in general has a lot of work and what you want is to help,” adds Simón, considered the best central defender in the world.
Leonel Suárez, double Olympic medalist and double world medalist in the decathlon, agrees that Cuba must make “a good reform” and give better conditions to its athletes to “get out of the hole.”
Migration in sports from Cuba is not new, it began after the triumph of the revolution in 1959, when professional sports were abolished, but departures increased in the 1990s.
According to official figures, more than 800 athletes have fled the Cuban regime in the last ten years.