By Jeremy Sollars
Five Cameroonian athletes have allegedly done a runner from the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village on the Gold Coast.
Australia’s Border Force is monitoring the situation, involving three weightlifters and two boxers who failed to compete at the Games yesterday.
The 60-strong Cameroon Commonwealth Games contingent spent nearly three weeks in Warwick in training and preparation leading up to the Games, which started on April 4 and finish this Sunday.
Cameroon Commonwealth Games official Victor Agbor Nso has told the media 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,” Nso said today, Wednesday 11 April.
“We have also laid a formal complaint to the Australian police.”
The competitors are within their visa conditions at present while unaccounted for, but Federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned all overseas athletes at the start of the Games not to think about overstaying their visas once the Games are over.
Gold Coast 2018 organising corporation chairman Peter Beattie has brushed off the athletes’ disappearance, saying it “happens at every Games” and is “not a surprise”.
Mr 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.
“I don’t want to be too blasé, but I don’t get too excited about this because I know there is a system to deal with it,” he told media today.
• Cameroon has a large youth population, with more than 60% of the population under the age of 25.
• It is effectively a one-party state, with President Paul Biya having held office since 1982 and retaining a firm grip on power.
• While considered to be a generally stable country socially, economic growth has been mixed in recent times, with poverty rising in some rural regions, giving rise along with unemployment, the search for educational opportunities and corruption driving some Cameroonians to migrate overseas.
Of course, these boys could just be enjoying an extended holiday…