Posted by Troy Brynelson on Sunday, Jul. 27 at 5:30 pm.
Four members of the Ethiopian track and field team have gone missing from the IAAF World Track and Field Championships over the weekend, according to the University of Oregon.
University spokeswoman Julie Brown said the four members of Ethiopia’s junior team were not in their assigned rooms at the residence halls Saturday morning and were declared missing shortly afterward. Their names have not been released, but the sole male in the group is under 18, while the three females are all adults.
The University of Oregon Police Department is currently leading the search for the athletes.
“They’re trying to locate them and make sure they’re safe,” Brown said of the investigation. “We’ve heard indirectly that they are with family or friends in other areas of the state, but we haven’t been able to confirm.”
The investigation has proceeded under the assumption, but not yet verified, that the students are seeking asylum.
“I’m hoping that we’ll be able to make contact with them and confirm that they’re safe and make sure that they’re no longer missing persons,” said Brown.
Members of the the UO’s own ambassador program — students selected to be concierges to the international athletes — were taught during their preparation classes of the possibility that an athlete could try and remain in the United States after the tournament and were told to relay the information to UOPD who would then get ahold of the State Department.
“We talked about it, it was covered just one of the class days,” UO ambassador Negina Pirzad said in a phone interview. “They were told that they should prepare for it in case it does happen because it is an international event and we are hosting people from developing countries and places with war.”
TrackTown USA spokesman Curtis Anderson said the organization could not comment on the story.
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