Defections Possible After World track Meet

Defections possible after world track meet

Organizer wouldn't confirm defections, but passed along information to authorities

CBC News
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | 9:37 AM AT

The IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships have wrapped up in Moncton, N.B., and there are now suggestions that some participants are attempting to defect to Canada.

More than 1,400 athletes from 163 countries competed in 44 events during the weeklong event, which ended Sunday.

It's not unusual for athletes, team officials and even foreign journalists to use sporting events like the world juniors to seek asylum.

Games officials say they knew defections were a possibility and were working with the federal Department of Citizenship and Immigration on what to do if someone approached staff or volunteers hoping to remain in the country.

Nancy McKay, the chief operating officer of the Moncton event, would not confirm any defections but did say on the weekend that information has been passed along to other authorities.

“We don't validate if any information is true. We don't investigate. We just pass along any things we're hearing to authorities, which we did do this week,” McKay said.

The Codiac RCMP say they don't know of anyone refusing to leave the country.

Citizenship and Immigration says it has a policy that it does not to confirm or deny any asylum claims.

The federal department says when a person seeks asylum or refugee status, it is based on the claim that their safety is at risk and if the department confirmed a person was seeking asylum it could increase the risk to that person.

Staff at the international sporting event tried to eliminate the possibility of defections as the IAAF games were approaching.

For example, organizers said they received more than 60 applications to attend the games from journalists in Ethiopia.

The Moncton organizers worked closely with the IAAF to ensure that the journalists who came to Canada were in the country to legitimately cover the games and not using the event to make a refugee claim.