Facilitating procedures for issuing visas for those taking part in sporting events
The Regulation lays down special rules for members of the Olympic family with regard to the issuing of visas and the crossing of borders. The validity of these arrangements, which applied by way of derogation and were designed to avoid additional formalities, was restricted to the duration of the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They were subsequently evaluated.
Council Regulation (EC) No 1295/2003 of 15 July 2003 relating to measures envisaged to facilitate the procedures for applying for and issuing visas for members of the Olympic family taking part in the 2004 Olympic or Paralympic Games in Athens.
The Regulation was not designed to abolish the visa requirement for members of the Olympic family who are subject to it by virtue of their nationality but to lay down measures for adoption by Greece to facilitate their entry into the Schengen area in order to take part in the 2004 Games in Athens.
The special procedure for applying for visas is incorporated into accreditation request procedure that members of the Olympic family have to comply with. This means that they do not have to present themselves in person at the consular services either to make the application or to receive the visa, which is formalised instead by the marking of a specific number in the Olympic Games accreditation card.
Organisations applying for the Olympic accreditation card * for the persons selected to take part in the Games may, at the same time submit a collective group application for visas as well.
The Organising Committee * sends the applications to the consular services as quickly as possible. The services then check that the persons in question:
- have been accredited by the Organising Committee;
- hold a passport;
- have not been identified for non-admission in the Schengen Information System;
- are not deemed liable to undermine public order.
Once compliance with these conditions has been checked, the services issue a uniform short-stay, multiple-entry visa authorising a stay of up to 90 days for the duration of the Games.
If the conditions are not met, the consular services may issue a visa with limited territorial validity.
The visa takes the form of two numbers entered on the Olympic accreditation card (visa number and passport number).
The visas are issued free of charge.
When members of the Olympic family cross the external borders of the Member States:
- entry checks are limited to verifying compliance with the four conditions set out above;
- the passports of all members (whether or not they are subject to a visa requirement) are stamped on entry and exit.
The Regulation also provides for the Commission to report to the European Parliament and the Council on the functioning of the derogation on the basis of a report transmitted by Greece after the Games with a view to the organisation of the Winter Olympics in Turin.
To enable the Games to be organised, the Community must establish legislation facilitating the issue of visas to members of the Olympic family. The Regulation meets this requirement.
Greece is the first Member State to apply the Schengen acquis in its entirety for the organisation of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.
|Key terms used in the act|
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Regulation 1295/2003/EC||04.08.2003||03.01.2004||OJ. L 183 of 22.07.2003|