Cameroonian swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue has gone missing in London, along with the country’s entire boxing team, according to the BBC. In all, 7 Cameroonian athletes (Edingue, 5 boxers, and the backup goalkeeper of the women’s soccer team) were not to be found in their rooms in the athletes’ village, with all of their personal belonging gone as well.
The athletes are all legally allowed to be in the country, as their Olympic visas allow them to be in the country until early November and thus far there is no indication that there is foul-play involved. Edingue swam in the 2nd head of the men’s 50 free, placing 54th overall (out of 58) in 27.87. That was three-tenths off of his entry time in the event, as the 23-year old was accepted on a FINA Universality entry.
For many, the Olympics are about achieving the pinnacle of the sport and the fulfilment of decades of work on the playing field. For others, they are about much, much more.
It is not uncommon for athletes from economically-disadvantaged countries to disappear during major sporting events. It is often their only opportunities to escape their countries, both politically and economically. Cubans are often the most public, but thus far in London we’ve already seen a 14-year old Ethiopian torch-bearer disappear.
There was rumor that parts of the Eritrean team would defect prior to the games. Three Sudanese athletes, not competing but sent along as part of a “training squad,” are believed to have defected as well; one arrived in a British police station seeking asylum, while two others are still missing but expected to follow suit.