The Sri Lankan contingent limps towards the end of the Commonwealth Games. Travelling to Birmingham 161 member-strong (which includes 51 officials), but only 30 remain for the closing ceremony. While many have returned to the crisis-hit nation, ten members have fled the games village, eight of whom remain missing. The disturbing trend began with judoka Chamila Dilani Marappulige and the judo team’s manager fleeing the scene after her first-round loss. They were followed by a wrestler, marking a troika of exits. Since then, seven more have joined the runaway pack, leaving Lankan officials red-faced.
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The disappearance of Marappulige and the manager prompted Sri Lanka’s Chef-de-Mission, Maj. Gen (retired) Dampath Fernando to seize the passports of the Lankan cohorts, but it has done little to dissuade those looking to slip out of his and perhaps even their nation’s fold. As per spokesperson Gobinath Sivarajah, West Midlands Police managed to trace two of the initial three, but they can remain in the country legally:
“We are missing 10 people. It’s a shame for Sri Lanka. We informed police. Two of them were located and the police said they came here legally and are staying legally. They left the athletes villages. Ten of them have left their baggage in the villages and taken their documents. The rest of the athletes have gone back to Sri Lanka, only 30 members of the team are left,” quotes ITV.
The West Midlands Police also released a statement:
“We are aware of eight reports of missing people relating to Birmingham 2022 and our enquiries continue to ensure they are safe and well. We are unable to offer any further information other than the above.”
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Mr Sivarajah further outlined the break-up of missing athletes (and officials): a male judo manager, a female judo athlete, two male wrestlers, three boxers, two male beach volleyball players and a female wrestler. Further, of the 10 missings, five were serving in the Sri Lankan armed forces.