'Missing' athletes spark UK immigration concern

15 Aug 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK immigration authorities and Olympic officials are on the hunt for a number of overseas athletes who have gone missing during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Three Guineans and three Ivorians are the latest to have disappeared, following 11 Congolese and Cameroonians who are already missing.

Adama Doumbia, technical adviser at the Ministry of Sports and Leisure in Ivory Coast, confirmed that more athletes have gone missing. “Three members of the delegation have not returned to the Olympic Village,” he remarked.

However, Mr Doumbia did not give the names of the missing members, although he did note that the number includes two swimmers and a wrestling coach.

Another official, an individual on Guinea's Olympic Committee, added on condition of anonymity that three Guineans are also missing. The representative told Eurosport that swimmer Dede Camara, judo competitor Facinet Keita and runner Aicha Toure have been missing since Saturday, just before the closing ceremony.

Athletes are not in infringement of immigration laws for the moment, although there is some concern about their whereabouts. However, if they have not returned to their home countries or taken alternative action by the time their UK visas run out in November, they could well face some problems with the country's immigration authorities.

The reports of 'missing' athletes follow news that an Olympic athlete, thought to be from an African country, has claimed asylum in the UK after entering the country legally to compete.

A spokesman for the Home Office told Sky News that the authorities expect all athletes to leave the country when their visas expire. However, any asylum applications will be dealt with in accordance with standard procedures despite the fact that the Home Office has been working under some stress due to the Olympic Games.