GOLD COAST, Australia – The Australian Border Force has been alerted and Commonwealth Games officials are concerned about five Cameroon athletes who have gone missing on the Gold Coast.
Cameroon team manager Victor Agbor Nso on Wednesday confirmed weightlifter Olivier Matam and boxers Ndzie Tchoyi and Simplice Fotsala had been due to compete this week but could not be found.
He said two other weightlifters, Aka Angeline Filji and Mikoumba Petit David, had earlier gone missing from the Games, but did not specify when.
Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg said it was disappointing the athletes didn't show up they were scheduled to compete.
"But these athletes are guests here in Australia, they are still within their visas and they have the right to travel freely," Grevemberg said. "Right now we are worried about safety and welfare of the athletes and we are taking this very seriously and monitoring the situation with team Cameroon."
Gold Coast organizing committee chairman Peter Beattie said he wasn't surprised and it was something that happened at other games.
Beattie, a former Queensland state premier, said the authorities had mechanisms in place to deal with the situation if the athletes overstay their visas.
"I don't want to be blase ... (but) I don't get too excited about this," Beattie said. "There is a system to deal with this and it will be dealt with."
Before the Games opened, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned athletes not to overstay their visas.
"Our message is the 0.5 percent of people who might think they can over stay a visa, or not act within the considerations of that visa, is that Australia has very tough laws and they need to abide by those laws," Dutton said.
At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, 26 athletes and officials sought asylum in Australia. Fourteen were from Sierra Leone who later reported to to immigration officials.
During the London 2012 Olympics, seven left the athletes village.
"We would appreciate them sticking within the law, enjoying themselves but sticking within the law," Beattie said.