Sports News of Monday, 23 April 2018
Further to official confirmation that two athletes from the Ghana contingent to the just-ended Commonwealth Games have gone missing, Joy Sports can confirm that they were not the only ones.
A total of five athletes cannot be accounted for, according to our information.
Ruth Baffoe, a weightlifter, competed at the Games but absconded from the team camp. But two others left the Games village even before the opening ceremony, Joy Sports understands.
An official with knowledge of the matter but not authorised to comment explains that the absence of the two was noted at a routine roll call after the team landed in Australia. The official, however, would not confirm or deny if Australian authorities were notified immediately the disappearances were noticed.
On Monday morning, a statement from the Ghana Badminton Association (click here to view) confirmed that two of its team, Stella Amassah and Gifty Mensah, disappeared from the camp.
This latest information adds to the already existing international ridicule Ghana is facing due to the viral story that more than 50 persons were processed for deportation on suspicion of visa fraud and impersonation.
The reaction from the Ghanaian government has been to suspend key officials involved in the process of accrediting athletes and officials to the Games while investigations continue.
These Games were supposed to be Ghana’s most successful participation in years, with the sports ministry and Ghana Olympic Committee continually touting the readiness of the nation’s contingent several months before the Games.
But long before the Games began, there were red flags.
On March 26, Australian media reported that Ghana’s cycling team had arrived in the city of Gold Coast without standard equipment, which led to an online fund-raising drive to ensure the athletes got the equipment. But officials of Team Ghana swiftly denied the claims.
“We are not skint. We are paying a lot to be at this hotel. Ghana, while we are a developing country, we are not skint. The Government of Ghana has not avoided its responsibility to ensure Ghana can participate fully in these Commonwealth Games,” said Robert Sarfo-Mensah, the head of Ghana’s National Sports Authority.
The periodical, called The Gold Coast Bulletin, apologised.
On April 2, two days before the opening ceremony, Joy Sports got information that some athletes had run away from the pre-Games camp. Ken Odeng-Adade, press attache for Team Ghana, flatly denied the story on Joy News TV’s morning program, the AM Show.
While positive reviews came in for Ghana’s kente-themed costumes at the opening ceremony (above), worse was to follow.
And then came news of more than 50 persons who had been processed to be sent back to Ghana because they could not answer questions from border authorities relating to the Games, despite having official accreditation as journalists and athletes.
That particular case gained global attention, which forced the President, Nana Akufo-Addo to recall officials of the Ghana Olympic Committee and the National Sports Authority from Australia. Suspensions of deputy Sports Minister Pius Hadzide and Sarfo-Mensah followed.
The search continues
It is not known if even more athletes cannot be accounted for, despite an assurance that the contingent that returned to Ghana last week over a period of three days was the full complement.
Joy Sports understands that the visas of all athletes and officials to the Games expire on May 15.
Investigations are still ongoing.