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AWOL fighters want UK stay

DISAPPEARED: Essomba (right)

FIVE CAMEROONIAN athletes who went missing during the Olympic Games have stated that they wish to remain in the UK to further their boxing careers.

Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Abdon Mewoli, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo and Serge Ambomowere, are among seven athletes from the African nation who have disappeared.

Speaking from an undisclosed location the athletes have claimed that they have also fled from the Olympic Village in Stratford, east London last week, due to being ‘threatened’ by the Cameroon Olympic delegation.

The boxers claim that they have been treated badly and their promised bonuses halved. One of the boxers, Mendouo, has said he and his fellow team-mates were asked by officials to hand over their passports following their fights in an attempt to send them home from the Games prematurely.

Mendouo stated in a BBC interview: “We want to become professional. We cannot return to Cameroon... if we return, we will not practice anymore.”

The allegations have been denied by David Ojong, head of the Cameroon delegation to the Olympics, who claims that the reasons the boxers have gone missing is purely economical rather than the result of threats and wrongdoing by the delegation.

As well as the boxers, a Cameroonian swimmer, Paul Ekane Edingue, also went missing as his personal belongings were found absent from his room.

The disappearances are not the first time Cameroonian athletes have gone missing during international sports competitions.

At past Francophonie and Commonwealth Games events, as well as at junior soccer competitions, several Cameroonians have quit their delegation without official consent.

The boxers currently have a visa to remain in the UK until November and are seeking a sponsor to support them and secure long-term residency.

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