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Team SA goes hi-tech

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Tuesday December 13, 2011

Having already qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games for the first time ever, our national women’s soccer squad were part of more ground-breaking developments this past weekend.

The logistics of processing the thousands of expected athletes in terms of identification and security issues is an enormous task but thanks to advanced work in the biometric movement, entry into the London extravaganza is expected to be that much easier in 2012.

On Saturday a team from the UK Border Agency visited the Banyana Banyana team headquarters to help with their preparations for the London Olympics in 2012, undergoing the biometric process in order to facilitate easy access to the Games.

Explained Gary Benham, First Secretary, Head of Communications, at the British High Commission: “My colleagues in our excellent visa team are working with SASCOC to capture the required biometric details that will facilitate the athlete’s entry into the UK for the Games next year. Our team went to teams’ training ground to take the necessary data from all of the players and management.”

The rowers (SA have two boats qualified already) were first to be processed last week.

The process is quick and painless, taking about two minutes, and requiring a photo, a 10-finger scan and passport check.

The biometric information collected will be stored on a database in the United Kingdom and held strictly in accordance with UK legislation, including the Data Protection Act 1998. Unauthorised persons will not be able to access biometric information and it will not be used inappropriately. It may be shared with other foreign governments with the purpose of helping them and the UK Border Agency perform their functions.

On concerns about one’s biometric information being available to strangers, Benham assured us that this will not be there case. “No unauthorised persons will be able to access the biometric information and it will not be used inappropriately”,

He further explained that the data will be kept for 10 years from the date that the finger scan is taken.

The Foreign and Commonwealth office offers an exclusive service to potential Games Family Members. This free service is aimed at those Games Family Members (coaches, officials and media accredited personnel) who don’t currently hold a visa to enter the UK (but would normally need one).

“This biometric service means that we can collect your information at your convenience before you arrive in the UK, this will mean one less process when you arrive in the UK to take part in the Games,” said Benham.

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