Three Nepalese athletes have disappeared from the Asian Games athletes’ village this week in an apparent attempt to find jobs, police said on Saturday.
One male Nepalese sepak takraw competitor failed to show up when his team flew home from Incheon on Wednesday. Two wushu players crept out of the athletes’ village early Thursday.
Closed circuit TV footage showed the two wushu players walking out of the village in the dark with their bags. The rest of the Nepalese wushu team returned home on Thursday.
“We suspect that all three disappeared to get jobs here as illegals,” a senior inspector at Incheon police told AFP.
Their short-term Asian Games visa expires on October 19 and if they overstay, the three will face charges as illegal immigrants, he said.
“We have asked Nepalese workers and local companies hiring immigrant workers to help find the three,” he said.
Athletes from Southeast and South Asian countries often flee sports events in South Korea and other major Asian economies to become illegals.
Sixteen athletes from those countries vanished during the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
Every year South Korea issues visas for tens of thousands of foreign workers from Vietnam, the Philippines and other Asian countries to help ease manpower shortages.
More than 200,000 foreign workers are also illegally employed in manufacturing, construction and other industries.