As international travel restrictions loosen around the world and voluntary workouts end, two of the three returning contributors from last year’s Nebraska men’s basketball team — Yvan Ouedraogo and Thorir Thorbjarnarson — remain at home overseas.
There is currently no clear timetable for their return to the states.
Nebraska — like any program with international players — is at the mercy of the U.S. government to lift or loosen travel restrictions, which remain stringent as coronavirus cases spike in parts of the country. So for now, Ouedraogo remains in France and Thorbjarnarson in Iceland. Both left Lincoln in March after the end of Nebraska’s season when classes were put online and students were sent home.
Most of the Nebraska basketball roster moved to campus at the beginning of June for the start of voluntary workouts. Pittsburgh transfer Shamiel Stevenson is at home in Canada, but is expected to be on campus by mid-July. Fellow Canadian Dalano Banton was able to travel to Lincoln. All players were tested and cleared of COVID-19. New signee Elijah Woods is on campus and has been cleared, a source said.
It’s unclear when the final pieces of the roster will join.
For Ouedraogo, the only movement allowed out of France at the moment is essential travel. Anyone leaving France must have an attestation, or proof of a legitimate reason to travel. In that document, it qualifies appropriate travel for European Union officials, healthcare workers, flight crews or French nationals going to a country in the EU. France will open its borders for travel to select countries outside of the EU starting July 1. The U.S. is not on that list.
France has seen a drastic decrease in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with just 280 new cases reported on June 29. The U.S. reported just over 40,000 cases on the same day.
A travel ban from Iceland to the U.S. was put in place by the White House in March. That expired on June 15, but a ban on entry for all foreign citizens from the EU/Schengen countries (including Iceland) remains in effect, per the U.S. Embassy in Iceland. Iceland hasn't reported more than five new cases in a single day in more than two months.
Nebraska is hopeful universities are able to bring international students back at the end of July. In the meantime, they've been in contact with Ouedraogo and Thorbjarnarson, who in the past have posted on social media videos of themselves working out.
Student-athletes currently on campus are undergoing voluntary workouts. Those end July 1, when instead of voluntary workouts, the NCAA has allowed players to participate in voluntary virtual nonphysical activities, enhanced in-person activities, weight training and conditioning.
Essentially, teams can meet over Zoom, go over film, do team-building, lift weights and run. That goes from July 1-19. On-court practices begin July 20 and last until the first day of classes or Sept. 15, whichever comes first.