Olympic runner in Yorkshire flees training camp and seeks asylum

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An Olympic athlete has walked into a Leeds police station and asked for asylum in the UK.

It is understood the male competitor, thought to be a middle distance runner, turned up at the Bridewell Police Station in the city centre on Tuesday.

The man, thought to be in his 20s is believed to have entered the UK as a legitimate member of an Olympic squad from a country in East Africa.

The sportsman is understood to have gone missing from his training camp as he and his team mates prepared to travel to London ahead of tonight’s opening ceremony.

Several countries have had bases in Yorkshire, the largest being the Chinese team’s in Leeds.

The athlete’s application is being processed in line with standard procedures after police passed the case to the UK Border Agency.

He was last night being held in secure accommodation outside the capital while officials looked into his case.

His attempt to claim asylum will almost certainly rule out his participation in the Games.

The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases but it expected all Olympic athletes to leave when their accreditation expired and any asylum applications would be dealt with in the normal way.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said asylum applications were a matter for the Border Agency.

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 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.”