Some AWOL athletes already covered by bridging visas
THE federal government won't say if bridging visas have already been granted to African athletes who went missing during the Commonwealth Games.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has urged the 11 athletes to give themselves up, after the visas they were on for the Gold Coast games expired on Tuesday at midnight.
But the head of a service that helps refugees migrate to Australia says some of the athletes have already got bridging visas.
2018 Commonwealth Games: Medal Table, Event Schedule, Athlete Search and Latest news
"I know some of them have already had interviews with immigration," said David Addington, the chairman of Sydney's Northern Beaches Refugee Sanctuary.
"I know that some of them have already been given bridging visas ... so you don't get detained."
Mr Addington was not personally involved in the athletes' cases, but said he'd spoken to advocates who were.
Mr Dutton's office declined to say if any of the athletes had bridging visas.
Earlier in the day, he said the athletes must present themselves to Australian Border Force officers.
"If people have breached their visa conditions ... enforcement action will take place to identify those people and to deport them if they don't self-declare," Mr Dutton said in Melbourne.
Solicitor Ben Lumsdaine, from Sydney's Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS), told The Daily Telegraph that some of the 11 had sought legal help.
In a later statement, RACS did not mention the 11, but said its role was to support people seeking refugee status after arriving on other visas.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said the athletes should not be allowed to stay.
"I don't believe they have sound grounds. They came here as athletes and they pulled this stunt," she told AAP.
"They are being fed these lines by these migration agents and by refugee advocates in this country, telling them what to say and what to do."