Chile says Cuban athletes who reportedly deserted at Pan American Games haven't requested asylum

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile’s government said Monday that it has received no requests for asylum from six Cuban athletes who reportedly abandoned their visiting national team after participating in the Pan American Games that ended over the weekend.

Camila Vallejo, a Chilean government spokesperson, said “so far, none of these athletes have made any kind of request” to authorities. Deputy Interior Minister Manuel Monsalve cautioned against calling the situation a defection, saying that the athletes are lawfully in the country for up to three months.

The alleged desertion involves five members of Cuba's female field hockey team and one male track-and-field athlete, and was first reported by Cuban journalist Francys Romero.

Romero wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday that the five hockey team players “left the accommodations around noon” after losing 3-0 against Uruguay. The sixth athlete who left was said to be a man who won a bronze medal in the 400-meter hurdles.

The case “is a concern for the government,” Vallejo said, adding that there are “established procedures" for these kinds of cases. “When there is a request, which hasn’t happened yet, it will be channeled through the National Migration Service,” she said.

Local media reported Monday the number of Cuban athletes who left the Pan American Village in the Chilean capital may have increased to seven.

Monsalve said it was too soon to call the situation a desertion.

“It’s important to remember that the athletes who participated in the Pan American Games have a visa that allows them to stay in Chile for 90 days,” Monsalve stated. Their visas can be renewed for another 90 days, he said.