The countdown to the 2012 Olympics has begun for the UK Border Agency. Marina Yannakoudakis, Conservative MEP for London, was near Heathrow Airport today to see how preparations are being made for the influx of overseas athletes for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

70,000 overseas athletes, officials, trainers and accredited media will need to be processed by the UK border agency. In addition checks will need to be performed on all those working in and around the Olympic venues.

On a visit to the offices of the UK Border Agency’s recentlyLjopened Olympic Clearing House near Heathrow Airport, Marina Yannakoudakis MEP met with a team of 50 caseworkers already processing applications for Olympics and Paralympics accreditation.

Marina said; “I’m already impressed with the progress being made here at the Olympic Clearing House. It is vital that we perform all immigration, background and security checks for each accreditation application thoroughly.

“However, it is important that delays are kept to a minimum at London’s Heathrow Airport and that the right people gain the appropriate access to the Olympic sites; nobody should have to miss competing in the London Olympics because of a bureaucratic bottleneck.

“The Olympic Clearing House is working hard to ensure that all applications are processed appropriately and in a timely fashion.”