More than a week after seven Cameroon athletes went missing from the Olympics, four Congolese have now been reported missing.
On Aug. 6, Team Cameroon mission head David Ojong told the country’s sports ministry they had misplaced seven Olympic athletes.
Ojong reported that a women’s soccer player, a swimmer and five boxers had gone missing. According to Reuters, the disappearances were probably not an accident. They report that the athletes will probably seek asylum in the United Kingdom, because of “economic reasons” in their country.
And now, four members of the Congolese Olympic team have also disappeared. According to Yahoo, a U.N.-run radio station in the Congo said one of their athletes and three of their officials are missing.
Judo athlete Cedric Mandembo was among the missing. He disappeared after the closing ceremony and has not been available by cell phone.
“Authorities tell the radio station that the Congolese athlete left the Olympic village with his baggage without saying where he was going,” said Yahoo. “The others who have gone missing are two officials with the boxing and judo teams, and a national athletic official.”
All four had left without their luggage.
For those left in the two countries, some are sympathetic… if the missing did leave on purpose.
“Admittedly not all of them are going to succeed, but those who are a bit lucky will be able to train one day under good conditions, will be paid correctly, which is currently very far from being the case for athletes engaged in Cameroon,” Cameroonian journalist Jean-Bruno Tagne told Radio Netherlands Worldwide after the disappearances, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The newspaper also reports that in the past, athletes looking to defect from their countries have used international sporting events such as the Olympics as their path to a different life.
Congo has been in the midst of war and a dictatorship and the athletes are not thought to be in danger.
The athletes from Cameroon have still not been heard from.