Rwanda has confirmed that its weightlifting coach, Jean Paul Nsengiyumva, went missing from the Commonwealth Games in Australia on Tuesday.
“Right now we don’t have any details of his whereabouts but we are waiting for information. But technically, he still has a visa for Australia up to May 15,” Festus Bizimana, the Rwanda National Olympic and Sports Committee (RNOSC) vice president, told The EastAfrican.
Australian media reported that Mr Nsengiyumva disappeared Tuesday after going to the toilet mid-competition at the Carrara Stadium in what turned out to be the longest toilet break.
“He was at Carrara Stadium with an athlete for the competition there and before the end of the competition the coach went to the toilet and from then we realised he was not in the stadium or the (athletes’) village,” Rwandan chef de mission Eugene Nzabaterura told The Australian.
He added that the police had been notified.
He is among 13 African athletes that have so far vanished from the games in Gold Coast. The others are two Ugandans, eight Cameroonians, and two Sierra Leoneans.
Australia has issued a stern warning to athletes who breach the visa rules. They risk arrest and deportation when the visas for the Commonwealth Games expire on May 15.
“We are still looking for them, however they are free to travel within their visa restrictions,” Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg said.
“Until it becomes a true issue and it is established they have outstayed their visas or formally applied for asylum, we will monitor the situation,” he said.
Prior to departure to Gold Coast last month, Rwanda’s Minister of Sports and Culture Julienne Uwacu warned the athletes against disappearing in Australia, saying it would dent the image of the country.
More than 4,500 athletes from 71 countries are taking part in the games, which began on April 5, competing for a total of 275 gold medals.
The games end on Sunday, April 15.