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Missing Commonwealth Athletes Ordered to Hand Themselves in Before End of Day

More than a dozen African athletes who went missing during the Commonwealth Games in Australia have been ordered to hand themselves in or leave the country before the end of the day.

The competitors from Cameroon, Uganda, Rwanda and Sierra Leone disappeared from their accommodation facilities on the Gold Coast where the Games were held – some without even competing.

The athletes visas are all scheduled to run out today.

The Cameroon team chef de mission branded his country’s missing boxers and weightlifters “deserters”.

Until now they have been in the country legally, but in order to remain they must lodge a formal claim for refugee status before their visas expire, at the end of the day.

The BBC news agency reports that several athletes have taken legal advice from an asylum resource centre in Melbourne – others are understood to have travelled to Sydney and Brisbane.

The Australian government has told the athletes to hand themselves in or enforcement action will be taken – warning that anyone without a valid visa will be tracked down, detained and deported.

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