Comm Games athletes on the run, flee village
FIVE Cameroonian athletes have reportedly taken off from the Commonwealth Games athletes' village on the Gold Coast.
In a matter that has prompted Australia's Border Force to monitor the situation, three athletes failed to turn up for their events on Tuesday and their whereabouts are unknown.
The Courier-Mail reports weightlifter Olivier Matam and boxers Ndzie Tchoyi and Simplice Fotsala have not been located since they failed to compete on Tuesday.
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.
He 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," Nso said.
"We have also laid a formal complaint to the Australian police."
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."
It comes after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton took the extraordinary step of warning athletes against trying to overstay their visas.
The Sydney 2000 Olympics, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and London 2012 Olympics were hit by stories of athletes overstaying their visas. In some cases athletes applied for asylum.
The Cameroonian athletes on the Gold Coast also have the right to apply for asylum.
Beattie, however, insisted there is little Gold Coast 2018 officials can do other than continue its dialogue with relevant government departments, until the point any athlete violates the conditions of their visa.
"There is a mechanism in place," he said.
"Obviously if there is a breach then Peter Dutton and the department will deal with it."