By Henry D Gombya
Four athletes who have been participating in the just concluded London 2012 Olympic Games are missing from their team hotel. The four, a judo player and three other members of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Olympic delegation have been missing in London since the weekend, according to Reuters.
Those missing are said to be: judo player Cedric Mandembo who lost in 49 seconds in his first game at the Olympics to Russia’s Alexander Mikhaylin in the 100-kilogram (220-pound) category; his coach Ibula Masengo; boxing trainer Blaise Bekwa; and Guy Nkita, the African country’s national technical director of athletics.
Mandembo and Masengo are said to have disappeared after Sunday’s closing ceremony. When asked for a comment, DRC’s Sports Minister Baudoin Banza Mukalay was quoted by AFP as saying: “I don’t know. I left London this morning (Monday).Yesterday (Sunday) I was with officials before the closing ceremony. They gave me a report that everything was going well.”
Last week, London Olympic organizers were trying to locate seven athletes from Cameroon who had abruptly left the Olympic Village. London Olympics spokeswoman Jackie Brock-Doyle said last Wednesday that the organization had informed the city’s Metropolitan Police Service of the incident involving five boxers, a swimmer and a soccer player. So far, 12 athletes from three countries have absconded from their teams. These include two from Sudan including one who sought political asylum a day before the games started, the seven from Cameroon and now these three from the DRC.
The reluctance of the African athletes to return to their homes should not be confused with the usual notion that they are seeking to benefit from what those who have no idea what is going on in Africa call ‘benefit scroungers’. It is more to do with the sadness of seeing athletes from other countries especially those from Great Britain doing so well at the Olympics.