Five Cameroon athletes, including three weightlifters and two boxers, have gone missing from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Village, with some failing to turn up to their competition events this week.
Queensland Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones said the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were involved, but no missing person application had been made.
“My understanding is that of this morning … there isn’t any official lodgement of any missing persons, but certainly the Australian Federal Police are monitoring the issue,” she said.
“They are keeping a watching brief on these athletes.
“When an athlete comes to Australia to compete in a competition we expect them to front up on the field and compete, so we are disappointed about that.”
Games chairman Peter Beattie encouraged athletes to stick to their visa guidelines.
“In terms of the athletes I’d just simply say enjoy Australia while you’re here this includes Cameroon, or any other athletes, stay within the law and be mindful of the fact there is a system in place in this country,” he said.
“Those issues are not a matter for me, we are running a sporting event, what we are simply saying is that we are encouraging people to stick within the visas issued by the Federal Government.”
Before the Commonwealth Games began Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned athletes not to overstay their visas.
“Our message to the 0.5 per cent of people who might think they can overstay a visa, or not act within the conditions of that visa, is that Australia has very tough laws and they need to abide by the laws,” Mr Dutton said in January.
This was not the first time athletes from the small African nation had gone missing at an international sporting event.
Seven left the athletes village during the London Olympic Games in 2012.
After the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, 26 athletes and officials sought asylum in Australia.
Fourteen were athletes from Sierra Leone, who disappeared from the Games village during competition but later handed themselves over to immigration officials.