Eight Cameroonian athletes - three weightlifters and five boxers - have gone missing from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Village in Australia, according to team officials.
Cameroon team manager Victor Agbor Nso today confirmed that six men and two women were missing, from a total of 40 athletes representing the country at the competition.
The Cameroon Commonwealth team is “sad to announce” that the eight athletes “are missing from their respective rooms in the Games village”, he said.
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Team spokesperson Simon Molombe told the BBC that the athletes had been reported to local police and that officials were viewing it as “desertion”.
“The authorities are very disappointed with the deserters - some did not even compete,” Molombe said. “The pious hope is that they come back to the village and travel home with the others.”
The missing athletes were last seen at different times on Monday and Tuesday, according to Molombe. The group's visas are valid until 15 May.
The missing athletes are weightlifters Olivier Matam Matam, Arcangeline Fouodji Sonkbou and Petit Minkoumba, and boxers Christian Ndzie Tsoye, Simplice Fotsala, Arsene Fokou, Ulrich Yombo and Christelle Ndiang.
Queensland Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones said the Australian Federal Police was “keeping a watching brief on these athletes”.
“When an athlete comes to Australia to compete in a competition, we expect them to front-up on the field and compete, so we are disappointed about that,” Jones said.
Federation chief executive David Grevemberg said that the Cameroonian athletes are within their visas and “have the right to travel freely”.
“It’s obviously disappointing that I think some of the athletes that have come didn’t compete as they were scheduled to compete," he added.
Seven Cameroonian athletes went missing while in London for the Olympics in 2012. Reports at the time suggested that they had “defected” and were seeking asylum.
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