Eighteen foreign nationals who were granted UK visas for the London 2012 Olympics have still not left the country, despite each being a failed asylum seeker, it has emerged. The athletes and coaches are mostly from African nations including Eritrea, Sudan and Cameroon.
Of the thousands of foreigners granted visas to take part in the games, 82 athletes, coaches and supporters applied for asylum. Of those, the vast majority – 54 people – were granted asylum by the Home Office. A further 10 have now left the country.
But 18 more remain in the UK three years on. They either have outstanding appeals still in the system or have simply gone missing, the Daily Mail has reported. The numbers were revealed thanks to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Conservative Member of Parliament Philip Davis.
Commenting on the figures, Mr Davis said that the failure to deport these people made the UK a laughing stock. Speaking in the House of Commons he said: “We must be a laughing stock around the world when we still haven’t kicked out illegal immigrants three years after they chanced their arm with a bogus asylum claim after competing at the London Olympics in 2012.
“There is no wonder the illegal immigrants in Calais are so desperate to get here. We must ensure illegal immigrants are turfed out of the country straight away.
“At the rate we are going we will have had the Rio Olympics before we manage to root out these illegal immigrants from the London Olympics.”
In 2013 it emerged that 21 athletes and coaches had disappeared from the Olympic village. Four were listed by the Metropolitan Police as missing people. They were named as Aissata Toure, 20, a sprinter from Guinea; Drusille Ngako Tchimi, 25, the Cameroon women’s football team reserve goalkeeper; Mandembo Kebika Cedric, 29, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo judo squad; and Yves Olivier Adje, 30, an Ivory Coast wrestling coach.
In a statement on the latest asylum seeker figures, a Home Office spokesman said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and we consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits. But where people fail to establish a genuine need for protection we will seek to enforce their removal.
“We process the vast majority of asylum claims within 6 months. Cases which are refused can continue through an appeals process which can significantly add to the timescales for a final outcome.
“The Immigration Act of 2014 made it harder for people to live in the UK illegally. The new Immigration Bill will build on this and we will take tougher action on those who shouldn’t be here, by rooting out illegal immigrants and boosting deportations.”