Cameroon has witnessed the disappearance of seven of its Olympic athletes from the Olympic Village. Five boxers, a swimmer and a soccer player are suspected of having fled the Olympic Games in order to seek asylum in England or Europe for economic reasons.
Cameroon officials have acknowledged the disappearance of the seven Olympic athletes. A statement from David Ojong, the mission head, sent to the Cameroonian sports ministry reads, “What began as a rumor has finally turned out to be true. Seven Cameroonian athletes who participated at the 2012 London Olympic Games have disappeared from the Olympic Village.”
According to Reuters, Drusille Ngako Tchimi, 25, reserve goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, was the first to disappear. According to the report, Ngako disappeared while her teammates left for Coventry for their match against New Zealand.
Ngako’s disappearance was then followed by that of 50-meter freestyle swimmer Paul Edingue Ekane, 21, and five boxers: light flyweight Thomas Essomba, 24; light heavyweight Christian Donfack Adjoufack, 28; lightweight Yhyacinthe Mewoli Abdon, 26; super heavyweight Blaise Yepmou Mendouo, 27; and light welterweight Serge Ambomo, 26, who were all eliminated from the Games, according to the BBC.
According to the Reuters report, officials with the International Olympics Committee said Tuesday that they had heard nothing of the missing athletes. “We are unaware of it,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams when asked of the athletes’ disappearances.
The Press Association, citing Cameroon media, has said that all seven missing athletes hold visas allowing them to remain in Britain legally until at least November.
According to Le Messager, a private newspaper in Cameroon, the athletes were supposed to fly back to Cameroon on Sunday but had vanished. The paper said the athletes took their personal effects, a nearly $5,000 bonus and sports equipment with them, according to an unnamed national Olympic official.
A sports reporter in Cameroon has said that some of the athletes hinted that they might try to stay in London before the Games began.
“They said they were very demotivated and named insufficient government attention to their complaints, inadequate financing, poor preparation and substandard infrastructure,” David Sandjo with Sweet FM radio told The Associated Press. “Some even said they would not hesitate to change their nationality if ever they had the chance.”
Britain’s Home Office, which handles the nation’s immigration, has declined to comment on whether any of the seven missing athletes have yet applied for asylum.