Fact Check: Posts Claim a 'Fake Asylum Seeker' Carried Olympic Flame in France. Here's What We Found

olympics.com and Getty Images
olympics.com and Getty Images


In May 2024, viral social media posts accurately claimed one of the Olympic torchbearers in France was a "fake asylum seeker."


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In May 2024, several social media posts in English and in French claimed that one of the Olympic torchbearers in France was an immigrant who had arrived in the country illegally:

(X user @RadioGenoa)

This post gained more than 230,000 views and 2,100 likes before being removed, and was just one of several of the same tenor. All of the posts included an 18-second video in French that told the story of the man, who was Black:

Yan-Ali, who is about to take it from here. He's come a long way because he has been through a very difficult situation for a teenager. He crossed the Mediterranean on a boat, he is part of those migrants, and he arrived in Pau in March 2021.

The video is a clip taken from a longer segment from the talk show Quotidien, which the show shared on its TikTok feed:

Presenter Yann Barthès: This is Yan-Ali, he carried the flame yesterday in Pau [Barthès misspoke, Yan-Ali actually carried it in Orthez] and this is his story.

Reporter: Yan-Ali, who is about to take it from here. He's come a long way because he has been through a very difficult situation for a teenager. He crossed the Mediterranean on a boat, he is part of those migrants, and he arrived in Pau in March 2021. And upon his arrival, he expressed the wish to work at a hospital. He first became a janitor and he succeeded. This allowed him to start training as a physician's assistant, which he is now.

Quotidien shared Yan-Ali's story as an inspiring one, an example of what can happen when France successfully manages the arrival and integration of young migrants.

The man's full name was Yan-Ali Silue. Originally from the Ivory Coast, he was indeed named as one of the torchbearers on the official website of the Olympic Games:


The flag next to his headshot indicated his nationality. While he lived in France, he retained his Ivorian citizenship.

Olympic torchbearers are nominated by committees or appointed directly as an honor, in recognition of their contribution to their communities. They can be athletes with notable accomplishments, people who represent their region in a positive way or who have done good work for their neighbors — people who inspire enthusiasm and embody the spirit of the Games. Silue received his nomination from leadership of the Pyrénées-Atlantique, an region in southwestern France whose administrative center is the city of Pau.

Silue arrived in France as the reporter described: from Africa, by boat, crossing the Mediterranean. He  described this trip as "long and tiring" but remained silent about the details. At the time, he was an unaccompanied minor seeking asylum. By law, unaccompanied minors who arrive in this way receive a special status and special protections, per the European Council Resolution 97/C 221/03 of June 26, 1997.

Unlike adults, unaccompanied minors in France have the right to remain in the country without legal residence documents. They are entitled to the same rights and protections as minors who are French nationals. Because he arrived in France as a child, Silue had the right to remain in the country, to receive shelter by the agency that helps and protects children and to go to school.

Silue described his life in France to Aqui!, a local publication. He said he had an interest in working in hospitals, and agreed to train to be a janitor specializing in hospital maintenance and hygiene. He then decided to become a physician's assistant. At the time he was a torchbearer, he was doing an internship at a geriatric home, looking after elderly people in the town of Arzacq-Arrazigue, 45 minutes north of Pau.


Article L411-1 - Code de l'entrée et Du Séjour Des Étrangers et Du Droit d'asile - Légifrance. https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/codes/article_lc/LEGIARTI000042776908. Accessed 24 May 2024.

Council Resolution of 26 June 1997 on unaccompanied minors who are nationals of third countries. 1997, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/LT/TXT/?uri=CELEX:31997Y0719(02).

'De mineur isolé à porteur de la Flamme olympique'. Aqui ! - Le journal numérique de Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Toute l'actualité des départements de Nouvelle-Aquitaine et bien au delà., 17 May 2024, https://aqui.fr/gensaqui/yan-ali-silue-de-mineur-isole-a-porteur-de-la-flamme-olympique-a-orthez-pyrenees-atlantiques/.

'European Elections 2024: All You Need to Know'. European Elections 2024: All You Need to Know, https://elections.europa.eu/en/. Accessed 24 May 2024.

Laurent, Dheepthika. 'French Far-Right Leader Jordan Bardella Tops Polls, but Offers Few Ideas for Europe'. France 24, https://www.france24.com/en/tv-shows/in-the-press/20240502-french-far-right-leader-jordan-bardella-tops-polls-but-offers-few-ideas-for-europe.

https://www.vie-publique.fr/eclairage/286639-mineurs-etrangers-isole-un-dispositif-de-prise-en-charge-sature#quel-droit-applicable-pour-ces-enfants-. Accessed 24 May 2024.