One-third of Team Cameroon have gone missing in a shock announcement to come out of the Commonwealth Games as officials fear they won’t be coming back.
It comes as what’s left of the Cameroon team fly home to prevent any more escapes.
Despite inital reports suggesting five athletes had disappeared, the Cameroon Commonwealth Team have confirmed to news.com.au that eight out of the 24 athletes that travelled to the Gold Coast are now missing after the “athletes left in three waves”.
“The Cameroon Commonwealth Team is sad to anounce that 8 of the 24 athletes they took to the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, are missing from their respective rooms in the Games village,” a statement from Team Cameroon’s Chef de Mission, Victor Agbor Nso, to news.com.au read.
Officials said the athletes left in “three waves”: First on Sunday night when three athletes “departed the village”. On Monday night, another two others were declared missing, and finally, last night, when three others left their room, never to return.
Games officials are stumped over the whereabouts of the Cameroonian athletes, five of which are boxers and three of whom are weight lifters.
The matter has prompted Australia’s Border Force to monitor the situation.
— Matt Young (@MattYoung) April 11, 2018
The Cameroon team’s press attaché Simon Molombe said: “They just left in the night.
“When we got up in the morning, they were not there. It’s very, very disappointing and very, very embarrassing for Cameroon,” he said.
He told news.com.au he “doesn’t think they’ll come back”.
The missing members were part of a training camp in Warwick, 130 kilometres south-west of Brisbane, before landing on the Gold Coast. Six of the missing eight had already competed in the Games competition.
Weightlifter Olivier Matam and boxers Ndzie Tchoyi and Simplice Fotsala have not been located since they failed to compete on Tuesday, and two other athletes have also disappeared.
Cameroon Commonwealth Games official Victor Agbor Nso has told The Independent Cameroonian weightlifters Aka Angeline Filji and Mikoumba Petit David also disappeared earlier this Games.
The additional missing athletes are boxers Fokou Arsene, Christelle Ndiang and Yombo Ulrich.
“In the meantime, the other two weight lifters of the delegation, along with the basketball players and officialshave already left Australia and are presently airborne for Cameroon,” the staement read.
Mr Molombe told news.com.au the team had “heard nothing” from the athletes as of 3pm Wednesday.
“They took away everything, if they left a message we would have looked for them already. We have no idea which direction they headed in.”
Mr Nso told Cameroon’s CRTV the Cameroon team has filed an official complaint with Australian police.
“We have officially informed our hierarchy back home: the Ministry of Sports and the president of the National Olympic Committee of Cameroon,” he said.
“We have also laid a formal complaint to the Australian police.”
Queensland police told news.com.au that authorities are not on the lookout for the athletes because “they haven’t committed any offence” and the athletes still hold a valid visa.
Cameroon chef de mission Agbor Nso Victor said all of the missing athletes had competed in Commonwealth Games events except for Tsoye, who had been due to fight New Zealand boxer David Nyika.
Nyika progressed to the semi-final of the men’s 91kg category after opponent Tsoye, failed to show up on Tuesday.
“My opponent didn’t show up at the weigh-in this morning,” he posted on Instagram.
The New Zealand Olympic organisation said Mr Nyika was “given a walkover by Christian Tsoye and advanced to the semi-finals”. A walkover is the awarding of a victory to a contestant because there are no other contestants or the other contestants have been disqualified or have forfeited.
On Wednesday, Gold Coast 2018 organising corporation chairman Peter Beattie stressed the athletes remain within their visas and are free to travel within Australia.
However, the situation has been deemed serious enough for Border Force to be contacted.
Beattie said it is up to the Cameroon team to monitor the situation up until the point the athletes break the conditions of the visas.
“It happens at every Games. It’s not a surprise,” Beattie said.
“I don’t want to be too blase, but I don’t get too excited about this because I know there is a system to deal with it.”
Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg stressed the athletes remain guests in Australia despite their disappearance.
“It’s obviously disappointing that some of the athletes who’ve come didn’t compete as they were scheduled to compete,” he said.
“These athletes are guests here in Australia at this time. They’re still within their visas. They have the right to travel freely, but this is obviously an issue that team Cameroon is monitoring closely and until it becomes a real issue in terms of visas and so forth we would obviously have to take that very seriously.”