YAOUNDE // Seven Cameroon athletes have disappeared while in Britain for the Olympics, the country's sports ministry said.
"What began as rumour has finally turned out to be true. Seven Cameroonian athletes who participated at the 2012 London Olympic Games have disappeared from the Olympic Village," David Ojong, the mission head, said in a message sent to the ministry on Monday evening.
The seven - five boxers, a swimmer and a footballer - are suspected of having left to stay in Europe for economic reasons.
Mr Ojong said a reserve goalkeeper for the women's football team, Drusille Ngako, was the first to disappear. She was not one of the 18 players retained in the squad after pre-Olympic training in Scotland.
While her teammates left for Coventry for their last preparatory encounter against New Zealand, she vanished.
A few days later, the swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue and his belongings were not found in his room.
Mr Ojong said that five boxers eliminated from the games, Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Abdon Mewoli, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo and Serge Ambomo, disappeared on Sunday from the Olympic village.
International Olympic Committee officials said yesterday that they had heard nothing about the missing athletes. "We are unaware of it," said the IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
It is not the first time Cameroonian athletes have disappeared during international sports competitions. At past Francophonie and Commonwealth games as well as junior soccer competitions, several Cameroonians have quit their delegation without official consent.