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‘It baffles me a little bit’: Commonwealth Games athletes seeking asylum

Almost 200 athletes from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games have applied for protection visas to stay in Australia, and those who have overstayed have the Minister for Home Affairs hot on their heels.

Neil Mitchell said there’s something about the situation which doesn’t seem to add up.

“It’s one thing that baffles me a little bit,” he said.

“Yes there are people who are being persecuted and rightly in fear of their lives.

“But if you were being massively persecuted would you actually be in a position to get in to the national sports team?”

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Principal solicitor for Refugee Advice and Casework Service, an organisation that’s helping some of the athletes, Sarah Dale told Neil refugees come in all shapes and forms.

“If a person is in Australia and fear persecution in their home country they have the right to apply for protection,” Sarah said.

“They will need to prove they have a well founded fear of persecution in their home country.

“The Department of Home Affairs will assess the claims and decide whether Australia owes them protection.”

Sarah said athletes from Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Cameroon are some of those seeking asylum.