YAOUNDE, Aug 9 (Xinhua) -- Cameroon's National Olympic Committee (NOC) president blamed the disappearance of seven of the country's athletes at the 2012 London Olympic Games on poor training and living conditions in their home country.
The Ministry of Sports and Physical Education on Monday evening disclosed that seven athletes, including five boxers, one swimmer and one female footballer, of the country's delegation to the London Olympics and their personal belongings had vanished from their rooms in the Olympic Village into thin air.
Speaking in an interview with state radio from London on Thursday, NOC president Hamad Kalkaba Malboum said he was not surprised if the athletes had defected to other countries to improve professional performance and ameliorate living conditions for themsevles and their families.
"This is not the first time this is happening. We have witnessed this several times during past international competitions and done our best to prevent this from happening again but to no avail," he said.
"We must admit that we don't have good training conditions as in other countries. As a result, our athletes will not hesitate to leave for other countries with better training conditions that can improve their performance, meet their dreams of becoming professional and earn more money to ameliorate their living conditions as well as that of their families."
He said this phenomenon actually started during the 1996 Olympic Games and since then over 50 Cameroonian athletes, particularly the boxers, have gone elsewhere for greener pastures.
The NOC president attributed the poor training conditions at home to the economic crisis the Central African country traversed for over two decades beginning in the late 1980s. Little funds were provided to the committee to develop good training grounds and improved the skills and living conditions of athletes.
He reminded that it is not only athletes and other sports men and women who are fleeing their poor home country. Many unemployed young ones after school are doing the same - seeking better havens abroad - when they are given the least opportunity.
"However, luckily, the economic context in our country has improved in recent years. So we are planning that, following what has happened in London, as soon as we get back home we will plead with the authorities to develop better training grounds as well as raise incomes for athletes to avoid the re-occurrence of this phenomenon."