While President Paul Biya was jetting off to Switzerland for a “short, personal visit,” a number of the Cameroonian Olympic athletes bailed on Team Cameroon.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
Seven Cameroonian athletes have disappeared from the Olympic Village in London, a Cameroonian official said. Five boxers, a swimmer and a soccer player are missing, the state Cameroon Tribune reported, citing Team Cameroon chief David Ojong. The first to disappear reportedly was female soccer goalie Drusille Ngako, followed by swimmer Edingue Ekane Paul. The five boxers then vanished.
“Their disappearance is not only an embarrassment, but a great surprise to members of the Team Cameroon delegation and Cameroonians based in London, having feasted with four of them last Friday at the Royal Garden Hotel,” the Cameroon Tribune wrote. A Cameroonian economist told the Guardian it was hardly surprising that the athletes took off. “The bottom line is to look at the economic conditions in Cameroon and see how hard the system is for many people, especially the athletes, who don’t receive any support from the government,” Flaubert Mbiekop told the British paper.
British immigration officials have refused to comment. All seven athletes were in Britain legally on passports that allow them to stay until November, the Press Assn. in Britain reported. Cameroonian athletes have previously taken advantage of sporting events abroad to leave their country, disappearing after the Commonwealth Games in Australia six years ago.
They also skipped out of the Francophonie event and junior soccer competitions. The state newspaper characterized those athletes as being “lured by scouts to quit their delegations without the consent of their officials for greener pasture,” only to “end up frustrated.” Before the Cameroonian athletes went missing at the London Games, it had been reported that three Sudanese athletes were seeking asylum after coming to the Olympics with the Sudanese training squad.
The Cameroon Tribune (state paper) writes that the disappearance of the athletes was a “great surprise”? Honestly? Even Hammad Kalkaba Malboum, head of the Cameroonian Olympic delegation, told RFI he “understood” why Cameroonian athletes would bail on the country.