TEN members of crisis hit Sri Lanka Commonwealth Games there is a contingent in Birmingham disappeared on suspicion of trying to stay in Britain, a senior sports official from the island nation told AFP on Sunday.
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The nine athletes and the manager disappeared after the competition ended, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Three of them – judoka Chamila Delaney, her manager Asela de Silva and wrestler Shanit Chaturanga – went missing last week.
This prompted a police complaint from Sri Lankan officials.
“Seven more have disappeared since then” said the official without naming them.
“We suspect they want to stay in the UK, possibly to get a job.”
The leadership of the 160-strong Sri Lankan contingent had the passports of all members to ensure their return home.
That didn’t stop some from leaving.
British police found the first three missing, but because they had not broken local laws and had visas valid for six months, no action was taken, a Sri Lankan official told AFP.
“Essentially, the police forced us to return the passports we held as a deterrent against desertion,” said the official.
“The police have not informed us of their whereabouts.”
Sri Lankan athletes have gone missing in international competitions in the past.
Last October, Sri Lanka’s wrestling manager abandoned his team and disappeared to Oslo during the World Cup.
During the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea, two Sri Lankan athletes went missing but were never found.
And in 2004, when Sri Lanka didn’t even have a national handball team, a group of 23 claiming to represent the country cheated their way into a tournament in Germany and disappeared.
Garin Lambley © Agence France-Presse