By Nick Butler at the Main Press Centre in Incheon

Nepal have been hit by the disappearance of three team members here during the Asian Games ©AFP/Getty ImagesA police hunt has begun to find three Nepalese athletes who have gone missing here following their respective competitions at the Asian Games, and are thought to be attempting to stay in South Korea to find work.

After being eliminated following three defeats in the first round of the men's doubles competition, a sepak takraw player, named in the Nepalese media as 17-year-old Aman Pode, did not appear when the team gathered to fly home.

At the request of the Nepalese team, South Korean police in liaison with Games organisers opened an investigation and found he had left the Athletes' Village in the night without telling anyone.

It has since emerged that two wushu players, reported to be Sombir Tamang, who was eliminated in the first round of the under 65 kilogram sanda event, and Nirajan Ale-Magar, who placed 11th in the men's changquan final, have also vanished.

"Through closed-circuit TV footage, we confirmed that he had disappeared," Incheon 2014 director of international relations, Jung Ki-young, admitted this morning when asked about the first disappearance.

"He was going to go back to his country after the match, he however, disappeared from the venue.

"Yesterday, two more athletes who participated in wushu disappeared."

Sepak Takraw player Aman Pode reportedly went missing from the Athletes' Village here in Incheon during the night ©AFP/Getty ImagesSepak takraw player Aman Pode reportedly went missing from the Athletes' Village here in Incheon during the night ©AFP/Getty Images

With more than 200,000 foreign workers thought to be employed illegally in manufacturing, construction and elsewhere, it is likely the players are attempting to capitalise on the supposedly greater opportunities here than in Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries.

Incheon Police senior inspector Kwon Wang-Hoon confirmed to AFP that if the athletes turn up before the expiration of their visas on October 19, they will be permitted to leave, but otherwise, they will face charges as illegal immigrants.

The players, together with officials blamed for not preventing their disappearance, have received huge criticism in Nepal, being accused of "bringing shame" to the mountainous southern Asian nation, that is yet to win a medal here at the Games.

Nepal's Ambassador to South Korea, Kaman Singh Lama, has described the situation as a "difficult diplomatic position", and a "big humiliation for the Nepali community and the workers here".

Players going missing during major sporting events has been a major theme in recent years, with many athletes attempting to stay behind in order to escape problems back home and ensure a higher standard of living. 

At the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last month, Ugandan rugby sevens team members Benon Kizza and Phillip Pariyo did not return home following the end of the competition and are believed to have remained behind to seek work in Scotland.

Two members of the Ugandan rugby sevens team at the Commonwealth Games failed to return home ©Getty ImagesTwo members of the Ugandan rugby sevens team at the Commonwealth Games failed to return home ©Getty Images

Interestingly, this is not the first time Nepalese athletes have gone missing on South Korean soil, with 18 Nepali players also disappearing the last time the Asian Games took place here, at Busan 2002.

National Sports Council vice-president and Nepal Olympic Committee joint general secretary Lama Tendi Sherpa has admitted that "such incidents are not new for Nepal" and that it "is a serious problem".

"The Government and NOC (National Olympic Committee) has to take extra measures to curb it," he added. 

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