Eight Cameroonian athletes who have participated at the Commonwealth Games here have gone missing as reports surfaced that competitors from four other African nations have also absconded.
Cameroon Chef de Mission Victor Agbor Nso confirmed the eight athletes, including three weightlifters and five boxers, had disappeared from the Gold Coast 2018 Athletes' Village.
According to reports, athletes and officials from Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Uganda and Ghana have also vanished.
Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) chief executive David Grevemberg admitted they were aware a Rwandan, two Ugandans and, potentially, one Ghanaian are missing in action.
It has also been reported that two members of the Sierra Leone delegation have absconded.
insidethegames has learnt the missing Rwandan official is powerlifting coach Jean Paul Nsengiyumva, who disappeared during competition on Tuesday (April 10).
Police and the relevant authorities have been informed and it is understood Nsengiyumva did not have the permission to leave.
His whereabouts remain unknown.
Ghana's press attache Kenneth Odeng Adade has told insidethegames that he did not know of any Ghanaian athlete to have disappeared.
Officials with the Cameroon team have said they are "disappointed" and admitted the eight athletes are not likely to return.
It had initially been suggested that five of the 24-strong Cameroonian team had gone missing.
A formal complaint has been made to the Australian police but the Border Force are no longer monitoring the situation.
Weightlifter Olivier Matam and boxers Ndzie Tchoyi and Simplice Fotsala have not been found since they failed to take part in their respective competitions this week.
Aka Angeline Filji and Mikoumba Petit David, both weightlifters, and three boxers - Fokou Arsene, Christelle Ndiang and Yombo Ulrich - have also gone missing.
In a statement, Nso confirmed the eight athletes, all of whom attended a pre-Games training camp in Warwick, had left in "three waves" during the Games.
The first three left on Sunday (April 8), before two more followed the next day.
On Tuesday (April 10) a further three athletes left their rooms, the statement said.
Grevemberg said they had not currently breached any visa rules.
He warned, however, that they would take the matter "very seriously" if they were found to have broken the regulations and overstayed their visas which are due to expire on May 15.
Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had issued a warning to athletes in the lead-up to the Games not to overstay the visas they were issued to compete.
Dutton had warned athletes that there were "penalties for those who do the wrong thing".
Gold Coast 2018 chairman Peter Beattie urged the athletes to "stay within the law" and not stay in Australia beyond the expiry of their visas.
"We would appreciate them sticking within the law, enjoying themselves, but sticking within the law," Beattie said.
"If they are thinking of doing anything other, I would encourage them not to do it."
It has since been confirmed that the other members of the delegation for the Games who have already competed here had flown back to Cameroon as a group.
"We are disappointed to hear that a total of eight athletes from the Cameroonian team left the Athletes’ Village without notice," the CGF said in a statement.
"While the athletes are free to travel within Australia, we share the concern of the Cameroon Commonwealth Games Association of the safety, welfare and whereabouts of the athletes."
The same thing happened during the 2012 Olympic Games in London when seven athletes from Cameroon went missing.
Five boxers, a swimmer and football player absconded from the Athletes' Village at the Games.
They were reported to be staying in Europe for economic reasons rather than returning home.
Ugandan athletes were also warned against vanishing during Gold Coast 2018 in the lead-up to the event.
Two Ugandan rugby sevens players, Benon Kizza and Philip Pariyo, went missing after Glasgow 2014.
They were reportedly seen working at a car wash in Cumbernauld, a town 14 miles to the north-east of Glasgow, but were later found living at a hostel for asylum seekers in Cardiff.