Sir Mo Farah, four time Olympic gold medalist and one of Britain’s most successful athletes, was this year made a Knight of the Realm by Queen Elizabeth, for services to British athletics.
In 2016 he made it on to Powerlist’s ‘Top five most powerful black Britons’, as well as Nickelodeon’s ‘Most Inspirational Athlete’, and Sport Relief’s highest polled ‘Sporting Hero’. When on Friday, President Trump signed an executive order halting the US refugee programme and suspending the immigration of Somali-born US permanent residents, Farah, who was born in Somalia, made a statement saying:
“On 1st January this year, Her Majesty The Queen made me a Knight of the Realm. On 27th January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien. I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years – working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home. Now, me and many others like me are being told that we may not be welcome. It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home – to explain why the President has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice. I was welcomed into Britain from Somalia at eight years old and given the chance to succeed and realise my dreams. I have been proud to represent my country, win medals for the British people and receive the greatest honour of a knighthood. My story is an example of what can happen when you follow polices of compassion and understanding, not hate and isolation.”
Speaking from Ethiopia, where he was training at high altitude in preparation for a marathon next month, he had been planning on returning to his home in Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and four children. Farah in 2012 said that he had been stopped on several occasions by US customs, under suspicion of being a terrorist. On one occasion following the 2012 Olympics, he asserted that he had attempted to prove his identity by showing his Olympic gold medals to customs officials, but that this was not accepted. The UK foreign office has since said that the immigration ban will not be applying to him.