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MX News Update 2024

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Asylum-seeking elite cyclist must move to Bibby Stockholm ship – as Home Office says he can’t take his bike on board

An elite cyclist who won gold at the Asian Cycling Championships and competed in the individual time trial against Remco Evenepoel and Filippo Ganna at the UCI Cycling World Championships last year has now been ordered by the Ministry of the Interior to move to the Bibby Stockholm ship.

Mohammad Ganjkhanlou is seeking asylum in Britain and has been staying in a hotel in Reading for the past eight months. He tells the Guardian that Reading Cycling Club has been ‘like family to me’ as he tries to ‘work his way back through the years’. elite cycling system from the beginning”.

However, the Home Office has ordered the 26-year-old Iranian to move to the Bibby Stockholm ship, a floating accommodation facility for asylum seekers awaiting the outcome of applications and located in Dorset. Secretary Suella Braverman, touted it as a way to reduce the cost of hosting asylum seekers.

In February, Labor MP Diana Johnson, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, reported that as many as six asylum seekers were sharing “small, cramped huts originally designed for one person” and questioned whether the damaging effects on the mental health of the residents ‘could increase’. violations of the human rights of asylum seekers”.

It was also evacuated last year after traces of Legionella bacteria, a bacterium that can cause a form of pneumonia, were found in the onboard water system.

A representative of the charity Care4Calais expressed concern that Ganjkhanlou’s mental health would be “seriously compromised if he were sent to the Bibby Stockholm ship”, especially as the Home Office confirmed to the Guardian that he had not been able to use his bicycle could take with you. on-board.

Instead, he may keep it in a lock-up in the port area and drive it elsewhere.

“The Reading Cycling Club is like family to me. Being an asylum seeker, I have to work my way back through the elite cycling system from the beginning and the club is helping me do this,” said Ganjkhanlou.

“If I can lock up my bike somewhere in Portland, I could train on my own, but I won’t have the opportunity to rebuild my career under the Reading Cycling Club banner and race with my friends. When I Reading Cycling found bright club days for me and I forgot my sadness a little and got closer to the competition.

“They got my racing license for me. They helped me to participate in competitions, they gave me the club’s racing kit. If the Ministry of the Interior transfers me to Bibby Stockholm, I will be in prison, away from the cycling that is my life and my therapy.”

Michael Gray, the club’s road racing secretary, added: “If he moves to Portland he will suffer from not being able to race. His talent and positive mental attitude will be reduced to zero. There are no race tracks , road races or racing competitions.” teams around there, and there’s no room for him to bring his bike on board. It’s his bike that keeps him focused, happy and gives him something to aim for every week and every month.

He also pointed to Ganjkhanlou’s past achievements in the sport, having won the U23 Asian Cycling Championships road race ahead of Astana Qazaqstan rider Yevgeniy Fedorov in 2019, three years before the Kazakh rider won the U23 World Championships road race.

Ganjkhanlou has also finished second in the Iranian national road championships and competed in the UCI Road World Championships time trial last summer, finishing 66th in the Stirling-based event, won by Evenepoel.

“For an elite cyclist like Mohammad, the prospect of not being able to train at his local club or compete in races is unimaginable,” said Emma Clark Lam of Care4Calais.

“We still hope that the Home Office will change their mind on this, but if they don’t it would be a very cruel outcome for poor Mohammed.”