Cameroon: Missing Olympians 'threatened'

2012-08-13 22:24

London - Five Cameroonian boxers who disappeared at the London Olympics said in an interview broadcast on Monday that they absconded because they had been threatened by officials in their delegation.

The boxers, who went missing along with two other Cameroonian athletes more than a week ago, said they now wanted to stay in Britain to develop their careers.

"We left the Olympic Village because we were threatened," boxer Blaise Yepmou Mendouo told BBC television in an interview at a secret location in London.

Speaking in French, Yepmou Mendouo said officials had tried to confiscate some of his teammates' passports.
He also claimed that Cameroonian officials had halved the boxers' agreed bonuses.

"We were not happy with that," he told the broadcaster. "But we decided, the five of us, that as fighters we should fight - because it's a matter of image."


The BBC named the other boxers as Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Abdon Mewoli and Serge Ambomo, and their missing teammates as swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue and female footballer Drusille Ngako.

All seven have visas to stay in Britain until November, British Olympic officials said last week.

Essomba told the BBC that the boxers were searching for a sponsor to help them become long-term British residents.

"We are not staying here because we don't like our country, but [because we] want to practise the sports we love," he said.

"We want to become professional. We cannot return to Cameroon," he added. "If we return, we will not practise anymore."


The head of the Cameroon delegation to the Olympics, David Ojong, was quoted by the BBC as saying that the boxers were lying, that they had never been threatened and were making up the allegation to justify their desertion.

Cameroon, which has a poverty rate of nearly 40% according to the World Bank, struggles to meet the basic needs of many of its people.

A third of the west African country's 20-million-strong population do not have access to drinking water or electricity, and one in four people lives on less than 1.1 euros a day.

Experts put the unemployment rate at 30% in the capital Yaounde and Cameroon's biggest city Douala.

  • jo.vankatwijk - 2012-08-13 22:46

    It's not the first time that athletes have "defected" to the host country. I hope these Cameroonians come right, wherever they eventually settle.

  • geronimo.feather - 2012-08-14 00:21

    Send them packing back to their own country, Britain. They have absolutely no reason at all to stay in Britain and leech off the benefit system.

      sean.lambie.3 - 2012-08-14 00:53

      Africa is all the same and SA is heading the same way ! Leaders live like KINGS while the idiotic masses that vote for the starve of hunger. A mentality that I can not understand !

  • Vince.York - 2012-08-14 06:36

    Favourite ALLTIME PASTTIME of African's, = FLEE TO UK & EUROPE or anywhere except Africa?

  • afortuin - 2012-08-14 08:49

    Britain has raped the resources of so many countries in it's sordid history the least they could do is offer these African countries' citizens a place to better their lives. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying put every person who applies for asylum up at the cost of the state but at least look at each case on it's own merit and be aware of the role that Britain has played in putting these countries in their current state. Colonisation almost always results in the destruction or collapse of the indigenous populations culture and social infrastructure. Not to mention the the economic crisis after all the resources run dry and the colonials decide to vacate and hand over power to a "puppet government".

  • Warwick - 2012-08-14 12:14

    If they were white? Could they claim the same?

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-08-14 12:23

    Yes and the British Social Services are excellent. Once they heard you had such things as unemployment benefits and social grands they thought they had ended up in heaven. No wonder they want to stay.

  • volschenk.d - 2012-09-10 16:34

    A cheap shot at an easy life. Go home dudes!

  • rmakia - 2012-12-24 17:41

    Athletes running away from their country is still another form of BRAIN DRAIN and there is no African leader who can say that He is unable to address the issue of brain drain in his country.

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