Ugandan weightlifter missing from hotel at Tokyo Summer Olympics

Officials with the Tokyo Summer Olympics implemented a "bubble" for athletes to stay in to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI

July 17 (UPI) — A Ugandan weightlifter in Japan who’d been hoping to compete in the Tokyo Summer Olympics went missing from his hotel Friday despite COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on athletes, local officials said.

Officials with the city of Izumisano told Kyodo News that Julius Ssekitoleko, 20, was missing from his hotel room when they stopped by his room to give him a COVID-19 test. He was staying near a training camp in Osaka prefecture and was confined to a “bubble” for athletes to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Ssekitoleko left a note saying he didn’t want to return to Uganda and directed his team to give his possessions to his wife back home, city officials said.

“I want to work in Japan,” the note read.

Ssekitoleko traveled to Japan in June but was unable to secure a spot to compete in the Summer Games, which open next week. He is due to fly back to Uganda with his coach on Tuesday, Salim Musoke, the president of the Uganda Weightlifting Federation, told The New York Times.

Musoke said he was surprised to learn of Ssekitoleko’s disappearance because all athletes handed over their passports and the hotel was guarded.

“What happened to the security they have been talking about?” Musoke questioned. “Athletes disappearing is not good for the country.”

He said he hopes Japanese officials capture Ssekitoleko and said he should be expelled from the sport.

Since the Ugandan delegation’s arrival in Japan on June 19, two people have tested positive for COVID-19. The team hasn’t revealed the identities of the two, and it’s unclear if Ssekitoleko was one of them.


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