Almost 200 Games athletes, officials seek Australia asylum

Sydney (AFP) –


Nearly 200 people who travelled to the Gold Coast for last month's Commonwealth Games have applied for asylum in Australia, an official said Monday.

Several participants from Africa vanished during the international event held on the east coast from April 4-15.

A handful of African athletes resurfaced and sought legal advice on how to apply for asylum last week after their Games visas expired on May 15, refugee advocates said at the time.

Some 205 competitors or support staff "are now lawfully in the country because they've applied for a visa of some type", Malisa Golightly from the Home Affairs Department told a parliamentary hearing in Canberra.

She said some 190 "have applied for a protection visa", while around 10 to 15 had sought other types of visa.

All remain in the country on bridging visas while their applications are assessed, Golightly said, without giving a time frame on when they will know if they are successful.

Some 50 others were also in Australia after their Games visas expired but had yet to get in touch with authorities or apply for another visa, Golightly said.

She added that even though they did not have a current visa, they could likewise seek asylum if they met the application criteria.

Golightly did not say where the competitors and officials were from, but they were previously reported to hail from Cameroon, Uganda, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.