African Olympic Athlete Claims Asylum In UK


An Olympic athlete has walked into a police station and asked for asylum in the UK, before the games have officially begun.
The unnamed male competitor is thought to have turned up at Bridewell Police Station in the centre of Leeds after legitimately entering Britain as an Olympic athlete.
He is said to be a squad member from an East African country and is being held while his asylum application is processed by the UK Border Agency.
A number of countries have training camps in Yorkshire - the largest being the Chinese team in Leeds.
A Home Office spokesman said he could not comment on individual cases. He said all athletes taking part in the Games were expected to leave when their accreditation expires and asylum applications would be dealt with according to standard immigration procedures.
Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: "It's a tragic fact that many people competing in the Olympics come from countries around the world where they are at risk of human rights abuses, conflict, and violence.
"Asylum is a human right, meaning that anyone can apply for asylum in a safe country if they are being persecuted in their own. The UK is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention which means we will offer protection to people who are found to be in need of it.
"So, as we welcome the world to the UK for the Olympics, we must also uphold our proud tradition of offering safety to those fleeing persecution."
Asylum applications at major events are not uncommon.
At the Sydney 2000 Olympics, 145 people overstayed their visas, 35 applied for political asylum and another 62 went missing, Sportsbeat reported.
At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, 20 members of the Sierra Leone team 'disappeared' from their camp before the end of the competition and nine athletes went missing from the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, in 2006.

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