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Foreign athletes to enter Britain without visas for Olympics

Thousands of foreign athletes will be allowed into Britain without visas for the Olympics. Many athletes will be 'on trust' to report to UK authorities. The decision as per the Daily Mail has been rubberstamped by Immigration Minister Damian Green.

 

It is expected to generate renewed controversy over lax border controls and national security.

Documents divulge that border officials plan to conduct 60-second biometric checks on competitors when they arrive at airports next summer.

Those turning up at small airfields or marinas without border staff on duty are expected to escape the checks altogether.

 The athletes will be ‘on trust’ to report to a UK Border Agency (UKBA) office within 48 hours to be photographed and give their fingerprint scans.

It is thought that half the 25,000 due to arrive without visas already have their biometrics lodged with the UKBA after a previous UK visit or visa application.

This means their criminal records can be checked against immigration and security databases before they travel.

This is despite the fact that British sporting events have been damaged in recent years by the disappearance of overseas participants.

In 2002, members of the Bangladeshi relay team disappeared during the Commonwealth Games in Manchester before they had run a race, and 21 athletes from Sierra Leone went missing after the Games.

The same year, 58 golfers from Nigeria and Ghana were granted visas to compete in qualifying events at the Open, but 53 vanished as soon as they landed in the

Two years ago four Ethiopian athletes fled from their hotel in London.

The little-known deal struck between the Government, the International Olympic Committee and the London Olympic Games organising committee, means the normal visa rules have been abandoned for all 25,000 non-EU competitors, their coaches, and team officials. Competitors from the EU do not need visas to travel here

However, the remaining 12,500 from more than 175 nations – including terrorist hotspots such as Pakistan, Somalia, Iran and Afghanistan – will arrive carrying only photo-identity accreditation cards issued by the Olympic authorities and their national passports.

Labour MP Mark Hendrick, a critic of Olympic security, described the decision to waive the UK visa as ‘madness’.

He is expected to demand an emergency Parliamentary debate on the issue.

He said: ‘At a time when heightened security regarding terrorism is needed, the Government is lowering the barriers.’

A Home Office spokesman said that the visa-free rules do not allow anyone to settle in the UK and added: ‘They are specifically for the purpose of taking part in the in the Games.”

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