Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko goes missing in Japan ahead of Olympics, then spotted 120 miles away
Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko went missing from the team camp on Friday and left a note telling his team-mates to send his belongings back to his wife. He has now reportedly been spotted around 120 miles from where he was staying, raising concerns about security measures ahead of the Games.
Ssekitoleko was due to return to Uganda this week after missing out on a place at the Olympics, but police were alerted to his appearance when he failed to show for a Covid-19 test on Friday.
He was reportedly last seen by a team-mate on Friday morning, while Ugandan Weightlifting Federation president Salim Musoke said the last time he spoke to the athlete was on Tuesday, July 13.
He told the New York Times: “When I got the message, I wondered, what happened if they were well guarded. What happened to the security they have been talking about?
“Athletes disappearing is not good for the country. I am praying that they should get this boy. The government of Japan should get this boy, and then we expel him from the sport.”
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A statement from the Ugandan Olympic Committee after Ssekitoleko’s disappearance read: “It was anticipated that he would qualify for the games. However he did not make the quota as informed by the International Weightlifting Federation on 5 July 2021.
“He, together with his coach, were due to return to Uganda on 20 July 2021.
“We, during our regular team briefings both in Uganda and in Japan, emphasised inter alia the need to respect the immigration regulations of Japan and not opt to leave the camp without authorisation
“Our team in Izumisano is cooperating with the Osaka authorities to try and locate Mr Sekitoleko. We shall keep you posted on any further developments in this regard.”
The news is another setback for Uganda after two unnamed members of the team tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Japan.