We told you last week about the seven Olympic athletes from Cameroon—five boxers, a swimmer, a soccer goalie—who went missing from the Olympic village in London. At the time, it was reported that those athletes would likely seek asylum. It now turns out that's exactly what the five boxers are doing, according to interviews they gave to the BBC from an undisclosed location:
"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.
Defections during the Olympics are not uncommon (though they were far more prevalent during the Cold War), and Great Britain does have a lengthy track record of accepting asylum seekers. Essomba had tried to defect to China during the 2008 Games, only to return eventually to Cameroon. This time seems to be different. He and the others have visas that allow them to remain in the UK until November, and Essomba told the BBC they were trying to find sponsors who could help them stay longer.
Cameroon Boxers Say They Fled After Receiving Threats [Boxing Scene]