A men’s squash pairing from Sierra Leone have become the latest African athletes to miss their event at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Hours after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned athletes who breached their visa conditions they’d be tracked down, locked up and deported, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Jombla and Yusif Mansaray did not appear for their men’s doubles match on Thursday morning.
Jombla and Mansaray’s disappearance meant India’s Ramit Tandon and Vikram Malhotra were handed a walkover in the Pool F clash.
Games officials have confirmed a Rwandan athlete, two Ugandans and potentially one Ghanaian are also missing in action.
The news comes after Cameroon revealed on Wednesday eight of its 42-strong Games team are missing, including two boxers who failed to appear for their events.
Mr Dutton said most Games athletes were on visas that remained valid until mid-May, but he was concerned by two instances in which athletes missed their events at the Games “when that was the reason they were here”.
He said they were “taking the mickey”.
“The compliance officers will be out there, I promise, tracking these people down and they’ll be deported as quickly as possible,” he told Macquarie Radio on Thursday.
“If they don’t want to be held in detention or locked up at the local watch house, they’d better jump on a plane before the 15th and comply with their visas conditions.”
Mr Dutton said if any of the missing athletes claimed protection status, Border Force would test each case.
“These people and others that might have a similar objective need to hear this message very clearly – they aren’t going to game the system,” he said.
Commonwealth Games boss Peter Beattie said while the athletes’ visas allow them to spend time enjoying Australia, they should return to their home country as scheduled.
“We encourage people to get a visa, come here and compete, stay a little while after, spend some money in this country and then go home, and that’s our position,” Mr Beattie told ABC Radio.