Seven athletes joining missing list at Commonwealth Games

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The Independent Online

Seven Sierra Leone athletes have joined a Tanzanian boxer and a Bangadeshi runner on the Commonwealth Games missing list.

Six track and field athletes and a weightlifter — six men and a woman — from the Sierra Leone team were last seen in the athletes village on Tuesday night.

Robert Green, spokesman for the Sierra Leone team, today declined to identify the missing athletes, but did confirm that three of them had failed to compete in a scheduled relay event.

Only one of the athletes was carrying a passport.

"I think it has dampened the rest of the team," Green added. "Obviously there is a feeling that it is not the nicest thing to do to the host country and your teammates to walk out."

Several athletes from Sierra Leone, an African country impoverished after years of civil war, went missing during the Manchester 2002 Games.

Green said he was not aware of any special conditions placed on Sierra Leone athletes entering Australia and he was no "formal concerns" for the missing athletes.

Victoria state police were treating the case as a missing persons investigation.

"We don't have any concerns for their welfare, (but) we'd like to know they're alright," a police spokesman said.

Most athletes were granted entry visas until the end of April. Police said immigration authorities would not become involved until any athlete overstayed his or her visa.

In the meantime, Tanzanian boxer Omari Idd Kimweri and Mohammad Tawhidul Islam, a 400-meter runner from Bangladesh, have not been located since being reported missing from the village on Monday.

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