August 8 (AFP) – Ten members of Sri Lanka’s Commonwealth Games contingent in Birmingham have disappeared in a suspected attempt to remain in Britain, a top sports official from the island nation told AFP on Sunday.
The nine athletes and a manager vanished after completing their events, the official said, requesting anonymity.
Three of them – a judoka, her manager, and wrestler – had disappeared last week.
That prompted a police complaint by the Sri Lankan officials.
“Since then, another seven have vanished,” the official said, without identifying them.
“We suspect they want to remain in the UK, possibly to get employment.”
The 160-strong Sri Lankan contingent’s management possessed the passports of all members to ensure they returned home.
That failed to deter some from leaving.
British police located the first three that disappeared, but as they had not violated local laws and held visas valid for six months, no action was taken, the Sri Lankan official told AFP.
“In fact, the police got us to return the passports that we were holding as a deterrent against defections,” the official said.
“The police have not told us about their whereabouts.”
Britain’s West Midlands police force, which covers Birmingham, said it was looking into reports of six Sri Lankans going missing from the Games, and said “enquiries continue to ensure they are safe and well”.
The force declined to comment further, including on the claim of there being 10 missing people in total, and the British Interior Ministry also refused to comment.
Sri Lanka had won one silver and three bronze medals at the Games as of Sunday evening.