LONDON >> Seven of Cameroon’s Olympic competitors have disappeared from their official residence and may be attempting to seek asylum in Britain, the chief of the African nation’s delegation was quoted as saying today.
The British news agency Press Association said David Ojong, the Team Cameroon chief, told his government that five boxers, a swimmer and a soccer player left the athletes village in Stratford, east London, over the weekend and have not returned.
The state-run Cameroon Tribune newspaper published a similar report, also quoting Ojong.
Ojong was quoted identifying the missing athletes, but the names differed from those given to the London organizing committee.
As displayed on the London Games official site, the seven are 50-meter freestyle swimmer Paul Edingue Ekane, 21; women’s goalie Drusille Ngako Tchimi, 25; and five boxers: light flyweight Thomas Essomba, 24; light heavyweight Christian Donfack Adjoufack, 28; lightweight Yhyacinthe Mewoli Abdon, 26; super heavyweight Blaise Yepmou Mendouo, 27; and light welterweight Serge Ambomo, 26.
The Associated Press telephoned and emailed Cameroon’s Olympic delegation, but no messages were answered.
Press Association, citing Cameroon media, said the seven all hold visas permitting them to remain legally in Britain until at least November.
A private newspaper in Cameroon, Le Messager, reported that the athletes were supposed to fly back to Cameroon on Sunday but had vanished. It said they took their personal effects, a nearly $5,000 performance bonus and new sports equipment with them, citing an unnamed national Olympic official.
The newspaper said Cameroon’s Olympic delegation told Prime Minister Philemon Yang about the disappearances and asked boxing coach Justin Tchouem to explain why he allowed his players to keep their passports.