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Embassy denies Sudan runner applied for UK asylum

The Sudanese Embassy rubished reports that one of its Olympic runners applied for asylum in the U.K

AP, Friday 27 Jul 2012
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The Sudanese Embassy has denied that one of its Olympic runners applied for asylum in the U.K, contradicting previous reports.

"We herewith categorically refute allegations ... that a Sudanese member of those who qualified for the Olympic competition and have arrived in London is either missing (or) sought political asylum," the Sudanese Embassy said in a statement. The Embassy was closed at the time of the release and was not accepting phone calls.

Earlier on Friday, a British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press confirmed the asylum request. Other media outlets cited police.

The male Olympian allegedly showed up Tuesday night at the Bridewell Police Station near the northern English city of Leeds. A number of countries have training camps in the area, including the Chinese.

The man's name was not disclosed but the British official said he was competing as an 800-meter runner.

Only two Sudanese runners are competing in the 800-meter- Abubaker Kadi and Ismail Ahmed Ismail, who is supposed to be a flag bearer for Friday's opening ceremony.

Ismail, a 28-year-old from Khartoum, is the only Sudan medalist in Olympic history. He won a silver in the 800-meter at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Kadi is a 23-year-old from Elmuglad, Sudan.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said Friday he knew of a reported asylum request but had not independently verified the details.

"I know about the fact there has been a request but I don't know the decision of the government," Rogge said.

A Home Office spokeswoman refused to comment.

The mostly black African tribes of South Sudan and the mainly Arab north battled two civil wars over more than five decades. Some 2 million died in the latest war, from 1983-2005.

The war came to a halt with a 2005 peace deal, which led to last year's independence declaration for South Sudan.

Though the breakup was peaceful, hostilities flared this year over several pending issues including oil revenues and borders.

Earlier this year, the United States warned that a humanitarian crisis was worsening in two states in Sudan where clashes were taking place, but the Sudanese government insisted the situation was "99 percent" normal.

South Kordofan and Blue Nile border the newly independent nation of South Sudan.

Both Sudanese states contain large groups that sided with the south during more than two decades of civil war but remain part of the north. Rebels from those groups that still support South Sudan's ruling party want to topple the Khartoum government.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)

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