Seven Cameroon athletes who left the Olympic village in the dead of night may be seeking new homes and better sports opportunities elsewhere, a Cameroon Olympic official said Wednesday.
The seven Olympians have valid U.K. visas that would allow them to stay in Britain for six months, press attaché Emmanuel Tataw told The Associated Press, noting this has happened before to Olympic squads competing at tournaments in Melbourne and Athens. “Most of the time they don’t come back,” he said.
Cameroon sent 37 athletes to the London games and more than half of them, mostly the women’s soccer team, had left the city after they were eliminated. The missing athletes include five boxers, a swimmer and a soccer player, all of whom had completed their events, he said.
Tataw said the five boxers also had Schengen visas because they had trained in Italy before the games. That would make it easier for them to travel legally to other European countries, including France, which has a large Cameroonian community that includes some athletes’ friends and family.
London Olympic officials said even though Cameroon officials were seeking help in locating the athletes, they had not breached their visas or violated any immigration laws.