Zola Budd's fast tracked British passport at the height of apartheid

In the United Kingdom, new documents have now emerged from an archive showing that the British cabinet was divided over whether or not Zola Pieterse, who was Zola Budd at the time, should be allowed to run for Great Britain in the 1984 Olympic games.

This was a hugely controversial issue as Budd was a South African runner who was given a British passport which bypassed international sanctions against apartheid.

UK correspondent Peter Anderson speaks to The Midday report's Stephen Grootes about these government papers, which in the UK are declassified after 30 years.

The latest release of papers from the archives office show a spat at the very highest level of government, with the Home Affairs Department, the Home Office, keen to fast-track Zola Budd's application for a British passport, but the Foreign Office as well as diplomats, urging a delay.

Peter Anderson, UK correspondent

Budd applied for citizenship because one of her grandfathers was British. Controversially within ten days of lodging her formal application, she was handed her British passport.

It shows those who wanted her on the GB team for the Olympics was successful.

Peter Anderson, UK correspondent

This despite strong anti-apartheid opposition in London at the time and concerns from the Home Office.

The Home Office at the time said it was a political minefield... and feared it may lead to boycotts of the Olympics.

Peter Anderson, UK correspondent

The recently released papers show that at the time, the matter went right to the PM Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street.

Listen to the interview below:


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