A judoka and three coaches from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) Olympic delegation, listed as having gone missing after leaving the Athletes’ Village at the London Games, missed their flight home — but the judoka says he is on holiday, an official source said on Tuesday.
Cedric Mandembo, who competed in the over-100kg category, boxing coach Blaise Bekwa, athletics coach Guy Nkita and judo coach Ibula Masengo have not been seen since the Games came to a close on Sunday evening, a DRC Sports Ministry source said on Monday.
“The three coaches and the judoka did not take the plane,” but the rest of the delegation did turn up for the flight home, said the head of the country’s National Olympic Committee, Amos Mbayo Kitenge.
An informed source in the capital said national boxing coach Bekwa disappeared from the Athletes’ Village on Friday, while national athletics technical director Nkita had left the area just after Ilunga Mande pulled out of the men’s marathon. Masengo was reported to have disappeared on Saturday night, while Mandembo was said to have disappeared just after the closing ceremony on Sunday evening.
Mandembo insisted he was just having a break.
“I have not fled. I came to participate in a competition and I will go back. As my visa is valid until September, I have asked the chef de mission if I can stay on for a few days,” he told Top Congo FM radio, adding that he was seeing friends.
Kitenge said he had spoken to Mandembo.
“I had him on the phone this morning. He called me himself to say he had not gone missing, but is in Manchester, where he is spending his holidays,” Kitenge said.
Mandembo added that he was irked at only having received 1,500 euros (US$ 1,849) spending money along with his squadmates, a sum he deemed insufficient, saying that some rivals from neighboring Republic of the Congo as well as the Angolan contingent had to his knowledge received “at least 8,000 [euros].”
Seven Cameroonian athletes went missing at the London Games and are believed to have defected, according to officials, while three athletes from the Ivory Coast have also disappeared.