As thousands of Olympics athletes returned home yesterday, it emerged that a Congo athlete and three delegates had absconded, bringing the number of African athletes and delegates who have disappeared from their London 2012 camps in the capital or asked for asylum to 15.

The news comes after five boxers from Cameroon deserted their Olympic squad and asked the Home Office for permission to stay in Britain – although officials would not say if the boxers were seeking asylum.

An UN-run radio station in Congo reported that Cedric Mandembo (pictured), a competitor in judo, disappeared after the closing ceremony. He had been scheduled to fly home last night.

The other missing Congolese are reportedly boxing coach Blaise Bekwa, athletics coach Guy Nkita and judo coach Ibula Masengo.

This is not the first time that athletes have sought asylum at sporting events. The 2002 Commonwealth Games saw more than 20 members of one African country asking to stay in Britain, while before the 2008 Olympics, seven members of the Cuban football team sought asylum after a qualifying game in the US.

Olympic officials are reportedly in the midst of tracking down the Cameroonian athletes. Authorities in the country have accused the boxers of aspiring to be economic migrants, although the Olympians told the BBC they had been threatened by authorities and had their bonuses halved.

Image: Getty