In a note, missing Ugandan athlete said he wants to work in Japan
- A Ugandan athlete, Julius Ssekitoleko, had gone missing in Tokyo ahead of the Olympic Games
- He was last seen at a local station near his delegation's hotel in Izumisano on Friday
- The Ugandan athlete competed in the men’s 56kg weightlifting final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games
In a bizarre turn of events, a Ugandan athlete, Julius Ssekitoleko, had gone missing in Tokyo ahead of the Olympic Games. The athlete, in a note, said that his life in the African country was too difficult and he wanted to work in Japan, officials said. The 20-year-old failed to qualify for the Games after arrival in Japan. He was due to fly back to Uganda on July 20.
According to a CNN report, he was last seen at a local station near his delegation’s hotel in Izumisano at 6:30 am on Friday. An Izumisano official said that an athlete purchased a Shinkansen bullet train ticket to Nagoya, about 200 kilometers away.
Ssekitoleko, in the note, said that he did not want to return to Uganda and asked the members of his delegation to send his belongings back to his wife, officials added.
His absence instilled a fear in the camp that he went missing but they noticed that a COVID-19 test sample had not been submitted by Ssekitoleko, city official Osamu Mizoguchi said. Local police were looking for him without success, Mizoguchi said.
The Ugandan athlete competed in the men’s 56kg weightlifting final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, aged just 17. He finished 10th in that contest.
Previously, two ]Ugandan athletes, and others from Rwanda and Cameroon, went missing during those games, which were held in Gold Coast, Australia, local media had reported at that time.
In the 2014 Commonwealth Games, two rugby sevens players from Uganda had gone missing but they were later found to have claimed asylum and were playing for a rugby team in Cardiff, the BCC reported in 2015.
The Ugandan delegation was among the first teams to arrive in Japan for the delayed Tokyo Olympics. They started training in the western Japanese city on July 7 after completing a mandatory quarantine.
On their arrival in June, a member of the delegation was found to be positive for the Delta variant.
The Summer Games, under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to begin on Friday. However, Japan will have no audiences in the stands to stem the spread of COVID-19.