By Kahyun Yang
SEOUL (Reuters) - Police are searching for seven athletes who have gone missing from their Asian Games delegations and are thought to be looking for work illegally in South Korea.
Incheon police said on Wednesday they were looking for three athletes from Nepal, two from Sri Lanka and one each from Bangladesh and Palestine.
The delegations reported the athletes missing to Incheon Asian Games organizers (IAGOC), who then informed the authorities, police told Reuters.
"We believe they've gone missing with the intention of finding work in South Korea," Incheon police said by telephone.
"There must be brokers or people they know who are helping them out. The immigration office has already gathered information and sources, so they are conducting the investigation and we are giving them support."
Police said the athletes' visas would expire on Oct. 19 and that they would be treated as illegal aliens and deported if apprehended after that date.
South Korean authorities encountered a similar situation in 2002 when several athletes disappeared from the Asian Games in the port city of Busan.
Police had taken measures to try to prevent athletes trying to overstay their visas after the Incheon Games, which ended on Saturday.
"There were 16 athletes who went missing during the Busan Asian Games," police added. "We've been preparing to cooperate with the immigration office before the Games started."
The athletes were from a variety of the 36 sports at the Asian Games, including karate (Bangladesh), weightlifting (Palestine), beach volleyball (Sri Lanka), hockey (Sri Lanka), wushu (two Nepalese) and sepaktakraw (Nepal).
(Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by John O'Brien)