Economic misery – or opportunity – drives many Olympic athletes to defect in modern times, but political defections still plague communist bloc teams such as Cuba.

Blue_Globe_EuroAfter the medal count comes the head count.

This year’s Olympics in London brought news of Olympic athletes who defected, disappeared, or went on the run, some of them before they even had a chance to compete, more than 20 at last count. Olympic defections are a relatively common affair, but the end of the cold war in 1989 meant that most modern sports defections – with the possible exception of Cuba, the grand champion of defection – are largely economically motivated.

This year, 15 African athletes and coaches have defected, with Cameroon in the lead – seven of its 37 athletes have been confirmed missing. Athletes weren’t the only ones to disappear. Four Congolese team members, including a coach and a technical athletic director, also failed to return to their home countries after the Olympic Games ended last week.

Ethiopia also deserves honorable mention for the disappearance of 15-year-old torch bearer, who was later found “safe and well” in Nottingham. Apparently, he simply got lost.

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Source: Scott Baldau | The Christian Science Monitor