The Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced on Tuesday that police forces are searching for 50 athletes and officials who disappeared after the Commonwealth Games in April.
Dutton told reporters in Canberra that an operation to find the 50 people has been organised in order to ‘take them into immigration detention and eventually to deport them’.
According to a report by Reuters, he also said that another 190 people had sought protection visas, a class of visa in Australia assigned to refugees.
More than 6,600 athletes attended the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Some of them, including those from Cameroon, did not show up to their events.
The accreditation given to athletes for the Commonwealth Games acts as a short-term visa to the host country.
According to the 2018 Games’ organising committee chairman Peter Beattie, they had worked hard with the Australian authorities on the entry system and had encouraged the 6,000 visiting athletes and officials not to breach the terms of their visas.
The Australian government is searching for athletes from Cameroon, Rwanda, Sierra Leona and Uganda.
Those who applied for protection visas are given bridging visas, which allow them to stay in Australia while their claims are processed.
More missing athletes than usual
Usually, Commonwealth Games competitors overstay or disappear from the athletes’ village, like in Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006, and Glasgow 2014.
However, the number of athletes who stay typically numbers the dozens, not the hundreds as in the case of the 2018 Gold Coast Games.