The IAAF has decided that Dominique Lobalo can compete for Switzerland from 6 April 2026.
The National Review Committee for World Athletics responded to the application submitted by the Swiss Athletics Federation in April and decided that Dominique Lobalo can in principle participate in the International Championships for Switzerland from 6 April 2026.
The right to start for a refugee middle- and long-distance runner does not depend on his naturalization, which would not be possible until the end of 2031 at the earliest due to legal deadlines. The right to start is subject to conditions. Lobalo calls for strengthening his relations with Switzerland.
“It goes against the values of sports”
The Swiss Athletics Federation considers Lopalo’s three-year wait to be too long. On the one hand, President Christoph Seeler welcomes the fact that Lobalo will one day be able to represent the Swiss colours. On the other hand, he said: “We are of the opinion that Dominic Lopalo should be eligible to compete for the international title immediately – anything else is against the values of the sport.”
The IAAF’s decision may be reconsidered. Swiss Athletic and the Lobalu team will analyze the Citizenship Review Committee’s reasons in more detail and then decide on how to proceed.
Feeling home for the first time
The athlete in question classifies the decision in a similar way to Swiss athletics. He added in a statement: “I would rather run today than the day after tomorrow for the sake of the country and the people who gave me, as a refugee, a feeling of being at home for the first time in my life.” As an athlete, you dream of World Cups and Olympic medals. I will continue to pursue this dream.”
Lubalo is a refugee from South Sudan who settled in Switzerland. The 25-year-old has been training in eastern Switzerland for four years and is one of the world’s best over 5,000 metres. He has so far been denied world title fights because he left the World League’s Refugee Team in order to build his own presence in Switzerland.
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