Olympics and UK immigration

- Posted in United Kingdom by Dominicon 14 August 2012

Mo Farah, double gold medallist and one
of the stars of the 2012 Olympics, was
born in Somalia and moved to the UK to
escape the war torn country.

Aside from a strangely poor closing ceremony, the London 2012 Olympics were an exceptional, and widely unexpected, success. While the organisation of the Games was fraught with budget and staffing concerns, it was on the field that Britain surprised the most, finishing only behind China and the US in the medals by winning the most medals since 1908.

A few weeks ago, we looked at the influence immigration has had on the success of the US Olympic team in the past. America has won nearly half of all Olympic medals ever awarded and has the broad, welcoming immigration policies of the past to thank for the evident diversity of its high flying team.

But what about the UK? Being the home nation was certainly an advantage to TeamGB, anyone who witnessed Mo Farah's performances could not deny that but the UK's march toward the top of the Olympic table did not begin in London, TeamGB finished fourth in Beijing.

Only the US and China have finished above TeamGB in the past two Summer Games; China's 1.3 billion strong population might be proving a match for America's 350 million people of all walks of life but is the UK that far behind?

UK immigration policy is currently a controversial topic; with Britain on course to be the most populous country in Europe, the Government has pledged to bring net migration down to roughly a third of its current levels but where would TeamGB have finished without its immigrants?

A study by independent think-tank British Future found approximately a third of TeamGB's 65 medals were won by athletes with immediate family members from outside Britain, including the following high profile eight athletes:




Immigration Connection

Mo Farah 5000m and 10,000m Two Gold Born in Somalia, moved to the UK as a child.
Jessica Ennis Heptathlon Gold Jamaican Father
Bradley Wiggins Cycling - Time Trial Gold Born in Belgium, Australian father.
Laura Robson Tennis - Mixed Doubles Silver Born in Australia
Laura Bechtolsheimer Dressage One Gold One Bronze Born in Germany
Christine Ohoruogu 400m Silver Nigerian-born Parents
Robert Grabarz High Jump Bronze Born in Germany
Anthony Ogogo Boxing Bronze Nigerian father

UK immigration has resulted in Great Britain becoming one of the most diverse countries in the world; in London alone over 300 languages are spoken and while immigration is certainly one of the most divisive issues around, Sunder Katwala of British Future says its benefits are plain to see.

"The record breaking achievements of TeamGB athletes have reflected an inclusive and authentic pride in the shared, multi-ethnic society that we are today."

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the UK Visa Bureau.