'No word': Cameroon team chief says he's heard nothing from missing athletes

 abc.net.au  4/16/2018 7:50:35 PM   Lexy Hamilton-Smith

Updated April 17, 2018 05:55:09

Cameroon's Chef de Mission is due to fly out of the Gold Coast this morning having heard nothing from his eight missing Commonwealth Games athletes, saying he is exhausted from the scrutiny prompted by their disappearance.

Victor Agbor Nso had to deal with the media fallout after the athletes vanished from the athletes' village during competition in a series of late night walk-outs.

They included weightlifters and boxers.

All but one had competed in their individual events before they disappeared.

Ms Nso told the ABC yesterday afternoon he had not heard from his "missing" athletes and wanted to make sure all his other team members had flown home before he headed to the airport.

"As far as I am aware they are still missing," he said.

"I have spoken, I have communicated sufficiently on this and the issue is now in the hands of the Australian Government, especially the Australian police.

"I do not want to talk about this any more, I am concentrating on returning home."

All up, 13 African athletes from the nations of Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Rwanda disappeared during the Games.

Some officials also performed vanishing acts, including Rwanda's weightlifting coach who said he was off to the toilet ahead of his team's performance — but never returned.

None are technically in breach of their visas, which do not run out until midnight May 15.

Gold Coast migration consultant Ian Natherson said last week his firm had been inundated with calls from African Games participants looking for ways to legally stay in Australia.

"You can't blame them trying to stay," he said yesterday.

"Look at the weather here, and the lifestyle. It is a great place to be in. Why would you want to go back?

"This has happened with all games. It happened at the Sydney Olympics, and it will happen again if we are lucky enough to get the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane.

"It is only when you get here you realise how great this country is and what it has to offer.

"Just walking down the street the freedom you have — you cannot do that in alot of African countries.

"I come from South Africa myself, where I would not walk the streets after dark.

"But I am sure a lot of them did do that here and just thoroughly enjoyed the freedom.

"I always say to people — if you are born in this country you have no idea how good it is until you have come from somewhere else."

Mr Natherson said a Kenyan paralympian and her husband contacted his firm yesterday inquiring about how they could stay.

He said he had fielded more than 40 calls from a range of different nations, but mostly Africans.

Mr Natherson said he did not know if any of the inquiries were from the missing Cameroonian athletes.

"No-one has come in with any formal paperwork," he said.

An Australian Border Force official says the missing athletes and officials would be red flagged from May 16, tracked down and deported if they were still in the country.

Meanwhile, a Mauritian team official who left Australia after being charged with sexual assault is due to appear in Southport Magistrates Court this morning.

The 52-year-old, who strenuously denied the allegations, had been expelled from the athletes village and had his Games accreditation cancelled.

He had made an undertaking to appear in court, but flew home to Mauritius on April 13.

Topics: commonwealth-games, immigration, foreign-affairs, refugees, southport-4215, brisbane-4000, qld

First posted April 17, 2018 05:50:35

« Go back