African Olympic athlete becomes first to claim political asylum in UK ahead of Games
London, July 26(ANI): An Olympic athlete, believed to be a middle distance runner from Africa, has become the first one to claim political asylum in the UK ahead of the London Games.
The man was being held by the UK Borders Agency on Wednesday after walking into a police station in Leeds and asking for asylum.
Immigration officials had earlier expressed fears that up to two per cent of athletes, team officials and supporters may claim refuge in the UK during and after the Games or try to stay on once their visas expire.
But the claim for an asylum which has unexpectedly come even before the mega event has begun is said to have shocked both Border Agency officials and ministers as they prepare to host some 120 world leaders on Friday, when London 2012 is opened by the Queen.
According to the Daily Mail, it is believed the athlete disappeared from a pre-Olympics training camp in order to claim asylum when he and his team was preparing to move to the athletes' village in Stratford, East London.
The sportsman, whose identity has not been revealed by the authorities, claimed he was a victim of harassment in his homeland, and would be questioned this week.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said a man who was 'believed to be an Olympic athlete' walked into Bridewell police station in Leeds on Tuesday.
The spokesman said he was believed to be 'seeking asylum' and added: "We did detain a man, but we didn't arrest him. He was handed over to the UK Border Agency who are now dealing with." (ANI)
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