Six members of Afghan Invictus Games team may seek asylum in Australia

Six members of Afghan Invictus Games team may seek asylum in Australia

Six members of Afghanistan’s Invictus Games team did not board their return flight home from Sydney last Sunday, and are believed to be planning to seek asylum in Australia.

A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs did not confirm whether any applications for asylum have been received from the team members, but told SBS News: “The Invictus Games competitors and officials may remain lawfully in Australia until the expiry of their visas. Their visas have not yet expired.”

Mirwais Ramaki, an Invictus Games volunteer assisting the Afghan team during their stay, said that five athletes and one official did not go to the airport with the rest of the team on Sunday.

“One of them actually said when he came and saw the people here — basically it was his first time coming out of the country, being in a safe and peaceful environment — that totally changed his perceptions,” Mr Ramaki said.

“They never actually had the intention to stay, they planned to go back, but these 10 days actually changed them.”

Mr Ramaki said the team’s visas are valid until the end of November and they have not breached their visa conditions, but said he had not had contact with the team since they left their hotel on Sunday and is concerned for their welfare as they have disabilities, speak limited English, and have little money.

The team comprised of eight athletes and three officials who arrived in Sydney on 18 October.

The Invictus Games is an annual sports event created by the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, as a sporting competition for wounded, injured and sick veterans to compete, and was hosted in Sydney from 20 to 27 October 2018.

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