By Avril Ormsby
LONDON (Reuters) - Cameroon Olympic officials have asked for help in tracking down seven of their athletes who have gone missing during the London Olympics, organisers said on Wednesday.
The seven, including five boxers, a swimmer and a football player, have disappeared from the Olympic village in east London and are suspected of having left to stay in Europe for economic reasons.
The London Olympic organising committee (LOCOG) has notified British police, but there is nothing that can be done until their visas run out in November or there is an infringement, it said.
"They (the Cameroon National Olympic Committee) have written to us to say these athletes have left the village, and left their accommodation, and can we help," a LOCOG spokeswoman told reporters.
"I think we are in quite a difficult position at the moment because they are able to be in this country. They are able to do what they like in this country, obviously within reason, but until that changes it is quite difficult."
It is not the first time Cameroonian athletes have disappeared during international sports competitions.
Britain's Home Office (Interior Ministry) would not comment on whether any of the seven had applied for asylum, and London's Metropolitan police also declined to comment.
An International Olympic Committee spokesman said it was "watching the situation", but at this stage he did not think it was "necessary for the IOC to be worried about whether they will or will not outstay their welcome".
Cameroon officials have said a reserve goalkeeper for the women's football team, Drusille Ngako, was the first to disappear. She was not one of the 18 finally retained after pre-Olympic training in Scotland.
While her team mates left for Coventry in central England for their last preparatory match against New Zealand, she vanished. A few days later, swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue and his personal belongings were also not found in his room.
Five boxers eliminated from the games, Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Yhyacinthe Abdon Mewoli, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo and Serge Ambomo, disappeared on Sunday from the Olympic village.
At past Francophonie and Commonwealth games as well as junior football competitions, several Cameroonians have quit their delegation without official consent.
(Reporting by Avril Ormsby; editing by Michael Holden)