By Tony Ubani Reporting from London
Seven Cameroon athletes have disappeared while in Britain for the London Olympics, according to the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education.
The seven – five boxers, a swimmer and a footballer – are suspected of having left to stay in Europe for economic reasons.
“What began as rumour has finally turned out to be true. Seven Cameroonian athletes who participated at the 2012 London Olympic Games have disappeared from the Olympic Village,” David Ojong, the mission head said in a message sent to the ministry.
Ojong said a reserve goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, Drusille Ngako, was the first to disappear. She was not one of the 18 finally retained after pre-Olympic training in Scotland.
While her team-mates left for Coventry for their last preparatory encounter against New Zealand, she vanished. A few days later, swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue and his personal belongings were also not found in his room.
Ojong added that five boxers eliminated from the games, Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Abdon Mewoli, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo and Serge Ambomo, disappeared on Sunday from the Olympic village.
International Olympic Committee officials said on Tuesday they had heard nothing about the missing athletes.
“We are unaware of it,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said when asked whether organisers had heard of it.
It is not the first time Cameroonian athletes have disappeared during international sports competitions.
At past Francophonie and Commonwealth games as well as junior soccer competitions, several Cameroonians have quit their delegation without official consent.