By Tom Degun

James Rutikanga_17-09-12September 17 - Rwandan sitting volleyball players James Rutikanga (pictured left) and Eric Ngirinshuti have become the latest athletes to go missing in the United Kingdom after competing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

The duo were part of the Rwandan men's sitting volleyball squad that failed to win any of their four matches at ExCeL and were eliminated in the group stages if the competition.

However, the pair went missing, along with all their belongings from the Athletes' Village in Stratford, during the Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony on September 9 according the Rwandan Chef de Mission for the London 2012 Paralympics Celestin Nzeyimana.

"They went missing without their service passports," explained Nzeyimana.

"Efforts to find them have so far yielded nothing.

"We are, however, confident that they will be caught and maybe deported back since they don't have any documents to prove their presence in London."

On the same night, a judoka and four officials from the Democratic Republic Congo vanished in London.

Congo's Cedric Mandembo, who lost his only judo match in 49 seconds to Russian Alexander Mikhaylin in the 100 kg category, disappeared after the Closing Ceremony.

His judo coach Ibula Masengo, along with boxing trainer Blaise Bekwa and Rwanda's athletics technical director Guy Nkita also disappeared.

At present, none of the athletes are breaking any British laws because they all have a special London 2012 visa to stay in the UK until November.

The Paralympics defects join several Olympians who also went missing from the London 2012 Athletes' Village.

The Olympic athletes that disappeared include over a dozen African athletes from Cameroon, Eritrea, Guinea and the Ivory Coast.

Eritrea flagbearer_Weynay_Ghebresilasie_leading_his_delegation_during_the_Opening_Ceremony_intends_to_seek_political_asylum_in_BritainEritrea flagbearer Weynay Ghebresilasie, leading his delegation during the Opening Ceremony, intends to seek political asylum in Britain

Weynay Ghebresilasie, the 18-year-old steeplechaser who carried Eritrea's flag during the Olympic Opening Ceremony, is one of the few to have come out of hiding to admit he is seeking asylum to escape from a repressive regime back home while five Cameroon boxers turned up to train at a gym in South London before disappearing again.

The Home Office has refused to comment on the reports, saying it does not speak about individual cases, however, athletes seeking asylum at sporting events is not a new occurrence.

At the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, 20 members of the Sierra Leone team went missing from their camp before the end of the competition.

Visa overstays and asylum applications also followed the Sydney 2000 Olympics, while Olympic defections were common during the Cold War.

One of the best-known incidents was at the Melbourne 1956 Olympics when half the Hungarian delegation defected to the West after the Games.

Experts say it is too early to tell what will happen to the African athletes who have gone missing as they may overstay their visas, apply to become a refugee or return to their countries before their visas expire.

But despite this fact, the missing athletes issue at London 2012 is believed to be the biggest defection in the history of the Games.

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