12. Telegram From the Embassy in South Africa to the Department of State1

2094. Subject: Ashe Visa. Ref: State 121981.2

In reply my questions concerning Ashe visa, FonSec Fourie told me in meeting today: (A) Foreign Ministry had, following press reports concerning alleged visa denial, made inquiries of SA Embassy Wash[Page 19]ington and ConGen New York and had ascertained that no visa application had been received from Ashe; (B) if Ashe should apply for visa, application would be considered on merits as any other application.
Fourie commented in personal vein that hundreds of visas issued annually for non-whites, and fact Ashe is Negro would not be cause of rejection of application. He cited cases several American Negroes who had visited South Africa in recent past and again stated that question concerning conditions of Congressman Diggs’ visa were not repeat not related to his race but were associated with his committee work.
I asked whether, if Ashe applied for visa and was granted same, he would be permitted to play tennis with white South Africans. Fourie said this was matter within purview Ministry of Sport and he not able give response to hypothetical question. All he could say was that circumstances of visa application would be considered. If purpose was deemed to be to “show up South Africa”, i.e. to come to country for political purposes, this no doubt would be taken into account.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, PPT Ashe, Arthur. Confidential. Repeated to London.
  2. In telegram 121981 to Pretoria, July 23, the Department asked the Embassy to determine the status of tennis player Arthur Ashe’s visa. (Ibid.)