Olympic legend Sir Mo Farah has revealed that he was illegally trafficked to the UK as a child.
The British sporting legend shocked the nation on Monday night when a clip was released from an upcoming documentary of Sir Mo speaking about how he was brought into the UK illegally under the name of another child.
The long-distance runner has delivered the revelation to the BBC in a new documentary entitled, The Real Mo Farah, in which he explains his real is Hussein Abdi Kahin and he is from Somaliland.
Aged nine at the time, he was flown over illegally from Djibouti by a woman he had never met and took the name of another child called Mohamed Farah, before being made to look after another family’s children.
The gold-medal-winning and record-holding British track athlete has previously said he came to the UK from Somalia with his parents as a refugee but, in reality, his parents have never spent any time here; his mother and two brothers still live on their family farm in the breakaway state of Somaliland.
His father, Abdi, was killed by stray gunfire amid the civil violence in Somalia when Sir Mo was just four years old. The region of Somaliland declared independence in 1991 but is not internationally recognised.
The woman who helped traffic him to the UK told him he was being taken to Europe to live with relatives there, telling him to say his name was Mohamed and using fake travel documents that showed his photo next to the name “Mohamed Farah”.
When they arrived in Britain, Mo says the woman took him to her flat in Hounslow, west London, and took a piece of paper off him that had his so-called relatives’ contact details.
“Right in front of me, she ripped it up and put it in the bin. At that moment, I knew I was in trouble,” he says, ultimately being made to do housework and childcare “if [he] wanted food in [his] mouth”, the woman adding: “If you ever want to see your family again, don’t say anything.”
“For years I just kept blocking it out,” the Team GB athlete says, “but you can only block it out for so long”, confessing that he would regularly lock himself in the bathroom and cry.
Reacting to the news, many online have declared that his origins, real identity and means of arriving in the country are of little consequence to them – he is a national hero all the same:
Moreover, others have quickly pointed out that Farah – a.k.a. Hussein Abdi Kahin – would have simply been deported under the UK government’s current Rwanda scheme, which ships those fleeing famine and war-torn territories thousands of miles away.
As many were quick to note, his sporting achievements, reputation and legacy mean will now mean he enjoys a level of protection, but sadly most refugees and asylum seekers will not be afforded the same exception to the rule.
Journalist Pippa Crerar confirmed that the Home Office has already clarified it will not be taken any action against the Olympian even despite his confession.
People are now calling out the British government over its hypocrisy and cruelty, noting that if Farah were like any other migrant arriving in the country, he would have been deported under the new resettlement programme; or, alternatively, were he to have been smuggled into the UK now, he would have had his opportunity to become a British Olympic hero snatched away.