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Win or vanish: a strange choice

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    Win or vanish: a strange choice

    THERE are reports that three Pakistani sportsmen - two boxers and a rower - disappeared from the Olympic village two days before the Games were due to end and have not been heard of since. Their managers say that their disappearance was inevitable because the Australian authorities had "little control over its occurrence". One of the two boxers had withdrawn his passport for a duty-free shopping spree while the others didn't even think it advisable to take their travel documents along. The trouble is that the vanishing sportsmen have valid visas to stay on in Australia till November 1. Earlier last week, it was reported that six African and European athletes had missed their flights home. They included a Tunisian weightlifter, two Kenyan and a Senegalese boxer. Another missing boxer was from Gabon.

    We now have six absconding boxers, a rower and a weightlifter. None of them was a winning sportsman. In fact, the Senegalese boxer's total presence in the Games lasted just 39 seconds before he lost to a Russian in the light heavyweight class. It is not uncommon to find sportsmen seeking permission to stay on in the host country after major international events. This was particularly true in the cold war era. Is the reason simply loss of face or are the causes more venal? There was this case of a Pakistani military band which had gone to New York to perform during the Independence Day celebrations in August. Some members of the band later escaped into the vast jungle of mortar and steel that New York is without so much as seeking permission from their superiors. We have reason to suspect that the idea generally is if you cannot win, vanish. A final verdict must, however, await till after the missing men's visas expire on November 1. Nobody should be too worried if the Pakistani boxers and the rower don't return home, except, of course, the Australian immigration authorities.
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