Cameroon Athletes ‘Missing’ from London 2012 Olympics Amid Asylum Fears

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[dropcap]S[/dropcap]even Cameroonian athletes that were brought to the UK to participate at the London 2012 Olympics have disappeared and it is feared that their aim is to remain in the country by seeking asylum. It is also reported that these fears has been admitted by the team’s officials.

Cameroon athletes 'missing' from London 2012 Olympics Amid Asylum Fears
Cameroon athletes ‘missing’ from London 2012 Olympics Amid Asylum Fears

Missing athletes, clockwise from top left, Drusille Ngako, Paul Ekane Edingue, Thomas Essomba, Serge Ambomo, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo, Abdon Mewoli and Christian Donfack Adjoufack.

The seven athletes, including the entire boxing team and half its swimming   team, were reported missing earlier this week in a major embarrassment for   the African nation.

Authorities admitted on Tuesday that the five boxers, swimmer and a female   football player were feared to have left in order to stay in Europe for   “economic reasons”.

Team officials informed the government about the possible defections on Monday   night after rumours swept the Games Village, in Stratford, east London, that   the athletes had gone missing.

Those reported missing include Drusille Ngako, 25, a reserve goalkeeper for   the women’s football and 21 year-old Paul Ekane Edingue, who was one of two   athletes representing the country in swimming.

The boxing team comprised Thomas Essomba, 24, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, 28,   Yhyacinthe Abdon Mewoli, Serge Ambomo, both 26, and 27 year-old Blaise   Yepmou MIt is believed to be the biggest such defection of the Games.

The group are not yet breaking British immigration rules after new   accreditation rules, introduced to bypass normal visa procedures, meant all   Olympic athletes, and their families, could stay in the country until early   November.

Home Office sources also insisted that all athletes were “freely leave the   Olympic Games village if they wish”.

It is understood that none of the seven athletes have yet applied for asylum   in Britain.

Despite finding none of their personal belonging, officials suggested the   group may have gone sightseeing or visited friends.

But David Ojong, Cameroon’s head of mission to London 2012, confirmed   officials’ fears that the group had absconded.

In an embarrassing letter to his government’s Ministry of Sports and Physical   Education, he admitted the group had “disappeared” without explanation.

“What began as rumour has finally turned out to be true,” he wrote. “Seven   Cameroonian athletes who participated at the 2012 London Olympic Games have   disappeared from the Olympic Village.”

He said that out of the team’s 60 athletes, 28 had gone home, 24 were still in   the village while the rest had possibly “defected”. He later held crisis   talks with the Sports Minister Adoum Garoua at the Olympic village.

Mr Ojong said Ngako, was the first to disappear after she was not one of the   18 members picked following pre-Olympic training in Scotland early last   month.

The goalkeeper of Lorema, a Yaounde-based female football team, vanished after   her team-mates left for Coventry for their last pre-Olympics match against New Zealand just days before the start of the Games.

A few days later, Edingue, originally from Bomono, went missing before he was   due to compete in the 50m freestyle. None of his personal belongings were   later found in his room.

The boxing team, who have all been eliminated from the Games, disappeared from   the Olympic village on Sunday morning.

Essomba, from Ebolowa, competed in the 49kg category, Adjoufack, from Yaoundé,   the country’s capital, in the 80kg and Abdon, from Etoa, was knocked out of   the 60kg division,

Mendouo, from Douala, the country’s biggest city, was a competitor in the   above 91kg class while Ambomo, from Ngoksa, who competed in the 64kg.

Four of the athletes were last seen at a team reception at the Royal Garden   Hotel, next to Kensington Palace, west London, on Friday. The country has   just two athletes left in competition.

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.

In June, an Ethiopian torchbearer, Natnael Yemane, 15, also disappeared after   he went missing from a hotel in Nottingham.

Meanwhile three Sudanese athletes who hoped to compete in the Games were last   month reported missing amid claims they would apply for political asylum.

Another competitor, thought to be a middle distance runner from an African   country, also claimed he was being persecuted in his homeland after walking   into a police station in Leeds.

On Tuesday, a Home Office spokesman said: “We don’t comment on individual   cases.”

International Olympic Committee officials insisted they had not heard about   the missing athletes.

“We are unaware of it,” said Mark Adams, an IOC spokesman.

A London 2012 spokesman referred inquiries to the Cameroon team, whose   spokesman was unavailable for comment.

Source: The Telegraph UK

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