Dutton Claims Commonwealth Games Athletes Applying For Asylum Are "Just Trying It On"

But refugee advocates have slammed the Home Affairs minister's comments.

What you need to know
  • 50 athletes and officials are missing following the Commonwealth Games, up from 11 previously reported missing
  • Another 190 athletes and officials have applied for asylum, with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton claiming they are "just trying it on"
  • The Refugee Action Coalition has slammed the comments

The number of athletes  and officials missing following the Commonwealth Games has swollen to 50 people, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton confirmed today.

A further 205 people who had been issued visas to attend the Games have been issued temporary bridging visas. Of those, 190 have applied for asylum in Australia, with another 15 applying for other types of visas.

The Home Affairs office is working with state policing agencies to locate the 50 missing people, with Dutton confirming the intention to locate them, take them into immigration detention, and eventually deport them.

"The Australian public won't be taken for  a ride," he said. "We aren't going to tolerate people that come here on visas that have been issued in good faith and then take advantage of our system."

He claimed the other 190 people applying for asylum are "just trying it on," and warned them to "consider their position very carefully as well because we are not going to be taken for a ride and we are going to have to look very closely at individual applications."

"There are millions of people who would want to come to our country tomorrow. We have an orderly migration process in this country. We aren't going to allow people to jump queues or to seek some sort of preferential arrangement for themselves. We have a proper process in place. We are a generous country in terms of the number of refugees and others that we bring in, but we don't tolerate people who take advantage of the Australian public."

Previously, it was believed that just 11 people involved with the Commonwealth Games had not returned home, including five boxers and three wrestlers from Cameroon, two athletes from Uganda and a powerlifting coach from Rwanda.

Dutton said that it will take some time to sort out, but said these issues are part and parcel for hosting major sporting events.

"We saw it in Melbourne. We saw it in Sydney in 2000. It happens in Glasgow, in the Commonwealth Games there, it happens in all of these major sporting events," he said.

Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition slammed the comments, telling ten daily:

“This is typical from Peter Dutton, who routinely dismisses asylum seeker claims, even though the vast majority of claims are found to be genuine."

He pointed to the cases of Cameroon weightlifters Francois Etoundi and Simplice Ribouem, both of whom applied for asylum following the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and now lift for the Australian team.