A man thought to be an African middle distance runner is the first Olympic athlete to try to claim asylum during London 2012.
By Rosa Silverman
6:31AM BST 26 Jul 2012
An Olympic athlete has reportedly become the first in the 2012 Games to seek asylum in Britain.
The competitor, thought to be a middle distance runner from an African country, walked into a police station in Leeds and claimed he was being persecuted in his homeland.
He is understood to have gone missing from a training camp as he and his team mates prepared to travel to London for the events, the Daily Mail reported.
The sportsman, whose identity was not revealed but who was believed to be in his 20s, was last night being held by the UK Borders Agency.
West Yorkshire Police said a man “believed to be an Olympic athlete” had entered Bridewell police station in Leeds on Tuesday and sought asylum.
A spokesman said: “He was handed over to the UK Border Agency, who are now dealing with it.”
Home Office sources said the man was in secure accommodation outside London while officials looked into his case.
His attempt to claim asylum will almost certainly rule out his participation in the Games.
One East African team official meanwhile said he thought an Olympic official was also planning to seek asylum in the country while he was here for the Games.
Immigration officials have warned that as many as two per cent of Olympic competitors, officials and fans may try and claim refuge in the UK or stay on after their visas have expired.
In 2002, the west African country of Sierra Leone sent a 30-strong team to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester but 20 had disappeared by the end.
Nine athletes went missing from the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, in 2006, seven of whom were also from Sierra Leone. The others were from Tanzania and Bangladesh.
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