London 2012: Cameroon boxing team go missing
Cameroon's entire boxing team have gone missing in Britain while competing at the Olympics.
David Ojong, Cameroon’s head of mission to the London Games, confirmed rumours that the seven, who include the country’s five-strong boxing team, had disappeared.
They may have decided to seek to remain in Britain or another European country as economic migrants, gone sightseeing or be visiting friends.
None are believed to have yet applied for asylum in the UK.
They would not be currently breaking the law as their visas would allow them to remain in the UK for the Olympics period.
“What began as rumour has finally turned out to be true. Seven Cameroonian athletes who participated at the 2012 London Olympic Games have disappeared from the Olympic Village,” Mr Ojong said in a message sent to the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education in Yaounde.
He said a reserve goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, Drusille Ngako, 25, was the first to disappear.
The goalkeeper of Lorema, a Yaounde-based female football team, was not one of the 18 finally retained after pre-Olympic training in Scotland.
While her team-mates left for Coventry for their last preparatory encounter against New Zealand, she vanished.
A few days later, swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue, 21, and his personal belongings were also not found in his room.
Five boxers eliminated from the games, Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Abdon Mewoli, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo and Serge Ambomo, disappeared on Sunday from the Olympic village, Mr Ojong added.
He said 28 of his country’s athletes had already gone home, 24 were still in the village and seven were missing.
The boxers’ disappearance was said to be a surprise to other Cameroon Olympic team members and Cameroonians in Britain as they reportedly attended a reception in honour of the athletes at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington on Friday.
International Olympic Committee officials they had heard nothing about the missing athletes.
“We are unaware of it,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
It is not the first time Cameroonian athletes have disappeared during international sports competitions.
At past Francophonie and Commonwealth games as well as junior soccer competitions, several Cameroonians have quit their delegation without official consent.
Some have been lured away by agents to pursue careers in Europe but others have struggled to make a living in their new country.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We don’t comment on individual cases.”
Olympic competitors are allowed to remain in Britain until early November under the accrediation rules used instead of normal visa procedures.
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