Missing Commonwealth Games athletes resurface, want asylum in Australia
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Missing Commonwealth Games athletes resurface, want asylum in Australia

Several athletes who went missing from last month’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast Australia have resurfaced and are seeking advice for gaining asylum in Australia.

other sports Updated: May 15, 2018 22:44 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Commonwealth Games,Gold Coast games,Commonwealth Games 2018
Missing athletes at the 2018 Commonwealth Games were from Rwanda, Uganda, Cameroon and Sierra Leone.(Getty Images)

A number of African athletes who went missing from the Commonwealth Games last month have resurfaced seeking advice on gaining asylum in Australia, refugee advocates said today.

More than a dozen were suspected of fleeing during the showpiece event on the Gold Coast.

Among them were competitors from Rwanda, Uganda and Sierra Leone, while authorities have also been seeking to verify the whereabouts of eight athletes from conflict-hit Cameroon -- one third of the central African country’s 24-strong team.

The Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) group in Sydney said it had received enquiries from several of them but declined to reveal the exact number or the countries of origin.

“Every person who seeks asylum in Australia should be subject to the same thorough investigation of their claims, be they students, visitors, workers or athletes,” RACS solicitor Sarah Dale said in a statement.

READ | 2018 Commonwealth Games: Athletes urged to respect visas as Cameroon competitors abscond

“The men, women and families who are recognised as needing protection in Australia are allowed to remain only after a complex and difficult process.”

The athletes’ visas were due to expire at midnight on Tuesday and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned anyone who overstayed would be forcibly removed from the country.

“If people have claims to make, or they have submissions to put to the department, then we’ll consider all of that in due course,” Dutton told reporters Tuesday.

“But if people have breached their visa conditions -- like anyone else, they’re expected to operate within the law, and enforcement action will take place to identify those people and to deport them if they don’t self-declare.”

Those seeking to stay in Australia can apply for bridging visas to remain in the country while their claim for asylum is being heard.

First Published: May 15, 2018 22:44 IST