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2012 Olympic Games

uniformed staff watching passengers arriving with luggage

Border Force staff at Heathrow Airport. Special Olympic lanes were set up to allow swift, safe and secure passage through the border

Playing it safe

For purposes of safety and security, the UK Border Force issued an Olympic or Paralympic Accreditation Card to athletes, support staff and media from around the globe who travelled to Britain for London 2012. This card permitted entry to the UK and access to the Games venues. For most visitors outside the European Union the card removed the need for a passport visa.

In preparation for the Games the UK Border Force  checked more than 470,000 accreditation card applications. 14,700 athletes took part from around the world

The UK Border Force had also carried out more than 58,000 identity checks on people working at the Olympic park since 2008. Together with HM Revenue and Customs, they ensured people were working legally across the venues.

archer firing a bow and arrow
Zhang Juan Juan competes in the archery individual gold medal match, Beijing Olympics 2008. Archery equipment needs a permit to enter Britain for the Games. © Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images

On track with controls

Athletes from 205 nations entered the UK for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Simplifed arrangements allowed entry of specialist sports equipment without payment of Customs duty, for example boats and sports wheelchairs. Permits were also used for unusual goods entering the country, such as horses and Games related weaponry.

During the Games the Border Force continued to tackle the smuggling of illegal drugs across the border. They worked with UK Anti-Doping to ensure the London 2012 Games were free from performance enhancing drugs.

Revenue loss from Olympic fakes was a concern. UK Border Force and HM Revenue and Customs worked with partners to control the importation of Olympic branded counterfeit goods. Money generated through the sale of counterfeit material is often used to fund other illegal activities.