Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia: Three Cameroonian weightlifters and five boxers have vanished from their accommodation at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, team officials and the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee have confirmed.
Officials named the missing athletes as weightlifters Olivier Matam Matam, Arcangeline Fouodji Sonkbou and Petit Minkoumba, and boxers Christian Ndzie Tsoye, Simplice Fotsala, Arsene Fokou, Ulrich Yombo and Christelle Ndiang. Cameroon officials said the group has valid Australian visas until 15 May.
A statement on Wednesday from the Chef de Mission from Team Cameroon, Victor Agbor Nso, said the eight athletes had left the Games Village in three waves.
Three athletes left the village on the night of April 8, two others were declared missing on April 9, and three more had left their rooms on the night of April 10.
Six of the athletes had finished competing in their respective competitions while the other two — boxers Ndzie Tchoyi Christian and Yombo Ulrich — left without competing.
An Australian Border Force (ABF) spokesperson said in a statement today the Australian Government had been “working closely with the organising committee and international stakeholders to ensure Commonwealth Games officials and athletes were aware of their visa responsibilities”.
“Commonwealth Games visitors who do not meet their visa requirements can expect to have their visas cancelled — the department does not comment on individual cases.”
Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman Peter Beattie urged the athletes to stick to the visa rules.
“We anticipated this happening — there’s a system in place to deal with it and we’ll get on with organising the event.”
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said she hoped the athletes do not try to overstay their visas.
“I just hope they’re out enjoying the delights of Queensland for a little while and will do the right thing and come back to the Games and go home appropriately,” she said.
The Australian government has warned athletes against overstaying their visas.
The Commonwealth Games Federation said it would monitor the situation but athletes had “the right to travel freely” on their visas.
The Australian Federal Police has been notified of the development, according to Kate Jones, a Queensland state government minister.
In 2012, seven Cameroonian athletes disappeared while in London for the Olympics.
71 Teams from the Commonwealth Of Nations are competing in 275 events in 19 sports – from 4 – 15 April 2018 on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Our cover photo: The Cameroon athletes missing from the Commonwealth Games Village on Queensland’s Gold Coast. (Left to Right, top row to bottom row) – Fotsala Simplice, Fokou Arsene, Ndzie Tchoyi Christian, Yombo Ulrich, Ndiang Christelle, Minkoumba Petit David, Fouodji Arcangeline Sonkbou and Matam Matam Olivier Heracles.