JOHANNESBURG — The 2012 Olympics ended recently but some of the athletes have stayed behind in Britain. About a dozen African competitors have chosen to defect, including the man who carried the flag for Eritrea.
Uganda’s gold medal-winning marathoner returned home this week to a parade, a presidential welcome and a check for $80,000.
Not all of Africa’s Olympians have been welcomed home like Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich.
In fact, at least a dozen appear to have left the Olympic village and sought asylum in Britain.
First, seven athletes in Cameroon’s delegation left the Olympic village with no explanation during the Games. Their whereabouts are still unknown. Sources close to the Cameroonian delegation in London had told Voice of America that the athletes defected to seek economic opportunities abroad.
Then a United Nations-run radio station reported that four members of Congo’s Olympic delegation had disappeared.
And most recently, the man chosen to carry Eritrea’s flag at the opening ceremony, steeplechase runner Weynay Ghebresilasie sought political asylum along with three other members of the Eritrean delegation. Those three have asked not to be identified out of fear for their safety.
The Eritrean athletes join dozens of their fellow citizens who have defected over the last decade. Among them, entire soccer [football] teams.
Weynay, who did not make the finals in the men’s steeplechase, said he felt that conditions at home seemed to be getting worse.
Aaron Berhane, a Toronto-based spokesman for the Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change group, says the athletes left for the same reason as so many
Category: Africa News