Cameroon Olympic officials have asked for help in tracking down seven of their athletes who have gone missing during the London Olympics, organisers said on Wednesday.

The seven, including five boxers, a swimmer and a football player, have disappeared from the Olympic village in east London and are suspected of having left to stay in Europe for economic reasons.

The London Olympic organising committee (LOCOG) has notified British police, but there is nothing that can be done until their visas run out in November or there is an infringement, it said. “They (the Cameroon National Olympic Committee) have written to us to say these athletes have left the village, and left their accommodation, and can we help,” a LOCOG spokeswoman told reporters.

“I think we are in quite a difficult position at the moment because they are able to be in this country. They are able to do what they like in this country, obviously within reason, but until that changes it is quite difficult.”

It is not the first time Cameroonian athletes have disappeared during international sports competitions.

Britain’s Home Office (Interior Ministry) would not comment on whether any of the seven had applied for asylum, and London’s Metropolitan police also declined to comment.

An International Olympic Committee spokesman said it was “watching the situation”, but at this stage he did not think it was “necessary for the IOC to be worried about whether they will or will not outstay their welcome”.

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