Eight Cameroon athletes reported missing at Commonwealth Games

Eight Cameroon athletes reported missing at Commonwealth Games
Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Photo:Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Eight athletes representing Cameroon at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast have been reported missing to Australian police by team officials.

The five boxers and three weightlifters - representing a third of the Cameroon team - disappeared from the athletes' village at Griffith University, the Cameroon delegation said.

Cameroon chef de mission Victor Agbor Nso said in a statement: "The Cameroon Commonwealth team is sad to announce that eight of the 24 athletes they took to the XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, are missing from their respective rooms in the Games village.

"These athletes left in three waves. First in the night of April 8 three athletes departed the village. Then on April 9 two others were declared missing and last night three others left their rooms."

The athletes - two women and six men - were named as boxers Simplice Fotsala, Arsene Fokou, Ndzie Tchoyi, Ulrich Yombo and Christelle Ndiang, plus weightlifters Olivier Matam, David Minkoumba Petit and Arcangeline Sonkbou Fouodji. Two of the athletes had not yet competed.

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg said: "These athletes are guests here in Australia, they are still within their visas and they have the right to travel freely.

"Right now we are worried about safety and welfare of the athletes and we are taking this very seriously and monitoring the situation with team Cameroon."

Gold Coast organising committee chairman Peter Beattie said he was not surprised as it was something that happened at other games.

Mr Beattie, a former Queensland state premier, said the authorities had mechanisms in place to deal with the situation if the athletes overstayed their visas.

"I don't want to be blase ... (but) I don't get too excited about this," Mr Beattie said. "There is a system to deal with this and it will be dealt with."

Before the Games opened, home affairs minister Peter Dutton warned athletes not to overstay their visas.

"Our message is the 0.5% of people who might think they can overstay a visa, or not act within the considerations of that visa, is that Australia has very tough laws and they need to abide by those laws," Mr Dutton said.

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, 26 athletes and officials sought asylum in Australia. Fourteen were from Sierra Leone who later reported to to immigration officials.

During the London 2012 Olympics, seven left the athletes village.

"We would appreciate them sticking within the law - enjoying themselves but sticking within the law," Mr Beattie said.

The Australian Border Force has been alerted to the missing athletes.

- Digital Desk and Press Association

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