Back in April, we heard that at the conclusion of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games that 8 athletes from Cameroon had gone missing. Turns out, that number could be more than a teensy underestimate.
Last week, Sydney’s 2GB radio revealed numbers of closer to 13 athletes, all from African countries, had gone missing. Earlier this week the number was upped to 19, and threats of deportation were thrown around by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton after athletes’ visas expired on Tuesday.
In a report today, Radio National (RN) revealed that inside sources have claimed that the real numbers of missing athletes hoping to be granted asylum are actually closer to 100.
In his interview with RN, President of the Refugee Council of Australia, Phil Glendenning, confirmed that while the numbers aren’t certain, they’re definitely higher than those being kicked around earlier this week.
“I don’t know [if it’s 100], but if you look at history, after the 2006 games 45 people stayed behind, after the Olympics more than 145 of which 35 applied for asylum…so this kind of thing is not unusual.”
He goes on to urge people to focus less on the exact numbers, and more on the process Australia has for assessing claims for asylum, noting his belief that pollies bandying around blanket threats of deportation are just “playing politics”. And certainly at this point, no known deportations have occurred.
“Not all the nations in the Commonwealth have human rights situations like ours…we’ve got systems who can provide assistance and protection to people whose lives are at risk in other parts of the world, and moreover that’s our law.”Image: Getty Images / Alex Pantling