8 shocking times African athletes have fled at events in the West

Runners from around the world compete at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene (Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)

There is a dark cloud of uncertainty around African athletes at international competitions outside the continent after several incidents of players running away from camps to start a living in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world.

This was again repeated at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia where eight Cameroonian athletes bolted even before the end of the competition.

They are weightlifters Olivier Matam Matam, Arcangeline Fouodji Sonkbou and Petit Minkoumba, and boxers Christian Ndzie Tsoye, Simplice Fotsala, Arsene Fokou, Ulrich Yombo and Christelle Ndiang.

Some of them were yet to compete in their disciplines. They were last seen at different times on Monday and Tuesday at their accommodation and have since been reported to the Australian police as “deserters”.

Below are other similar incidents in the past when athletes went missing.

Missing in Germany

In October 2017, three Ugandan rugby national team players went missing in Germany at the end of a three-day 12-nation tournament in which the Rugby Cranes finished 10th.

The trio – Ramathan Govule, Brian Kikaawa, and Fred Odur – were not found at the team’s hotel when they were preparing to leave the country.

Missing in Scotland

This was the national rugby team’s second incident after the 2014 Commonwealth Games when two players went missing at the end of the event hosted in Glasgow, Scotland.

Missing in the U.S.

In July 2017, six teenagers from Burundi bolted after participating in an international robotics competition in the United States.

The two females and four males between the ages of 16 and 18 were considered safe after two were found crossing into Canada.

Missing in Russia

In April 2017, 15 Cameroonian local footballers were detained, fined and ordered to immediately leave Russian territory after attempting to stay in Crimea after a tournament.

Missing in Brazil

In 2016, two members of Guinea’s Olympic team disappeared from the Rio 2016 Athletes’ Village after the competition.

Missing in the U.S.

In 2014, four members of an Ethiopian track team competing at an international event in Oregon in the United States went missing in what officials believed was an attempt to seek asylum and stay in the United States.

Missing in the UK

In 2012, seven Olympic athletes from Cameroon, including 5 boxers, a swimmer and a reserve women’s goalkeeper, were also missing during the London 2012 Olympics. They were followed by three Guineans and three Ivorians, while two members of the Sudanese team and one Ethiopian sought asylum in the UK.

This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com

Published by Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei is an international journalist, digital media and communications professional, editor, writer, arts, culture and tourism advocate, human rights activist, pan-Africanist, tech enthusiast and history buff. He has worked with multinational media companies across Africa and has over a decade’s experience in journalism.

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