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Sudan says runners who sought asylum are not members in its Olympic team

By Toby Collins

July 30, 2012 (LONDON) – Sudan’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland, Abdullahi Alazreg, denied that one of its Olympic team had applied for asylum in the United Kingdom.

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Abubaker Kaki at the 2011 IAAF world track and field championships (AFP / Getty)

The AP reported on Friday that a member of the Sudanese Olympic team is seeking asylum in the UK according to an anonymous member of the UK government.

On Friday the response issued by the Sudanese Embassy in London was to "categorically refute allegations" made by UK government and police officials, without further details.

Ambassador Abdullahi Alazreg, told the official news agency SUNA, that none of the Olympic athletes applied for asylum. He pointed out they were all at the embassy to break Ramadan fast in an Iftar organised in their honour.

Nonetheless, he admitted that three Sudanese runners, who were in London preparing for competition to be organised in Barcelona, sought asylum in the British capital.

He added another Sudanese runner refused to follow them and preferred to return to Khartoum where he is now.

There are only two runners who will participate in the 800m event; Ismail Ahmed Ismail and Abubaker Kaki.

Ismail, who was Sudan’s flag bearer in the opening ceremony, won a silver medal in his event in the 2008 Olympics; Sudan’s only medal in its ten Olympic appearances. He is 28 years old and is a member of the Fur ethnic group of Darfur.

Kadi is 24 years old and from El Mugland in Western Kordofan and is expected to leave London with a medal. He came in second in the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.

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Ismail Ahmed Ismail during the London Olympic opening ceremony, June 27, 2012 (Getty)

Also in the Sudanese team: Mhasin Elmuglad will swim the women’s 50m freestyle; Rabah Yousif will run the men’s 400m; Mohamed Elkhedr will swim the men’s 50m freestyle; and Amina Bakhit will run the women’s 800m.

The International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said on Friday "I know about the fact there has been a request [for asylum] but I don’t know the decision of the government."

(ST)