UGANDAN WEIGHTLIFTER DEPORTED FROM JAPAN AFTER GOING MISSING
A Ugandan weightlifter who went missing from a pre-Olympics camp in western Japan has been flown home a few hours before the official start of the Games.
Julius Ssekitoleko is currently being held at Uganda police headquarters to determine whether or not he had committed a crime, CID Spokesperson Charles Twino said.
He left the camp a week ago and was later found by the authorities buying a railway ticket.
Ssekitoleko’s mother, pregnant wife and government officials who had travelled to Uganda’s Entebbe airport to meet him on Friday morning did not get an opportunity to greet him on arrival.
In a statement, the ministry of foreign affairs said the athlete was being “rehabilitated”.
It said the government would “help him understand how such acts of misconduct cannot only affect him as an athlete but also other athletes in the sports sector and the nation at large”.
When he disappeared, Ssekitoleko had left a note saying he wanted to stay in Japan and work.
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A Ugandan athlete is missing from a pre-training camp in Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games, says the Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC).
A delegation which included coaches, boxers, a swimmer and a weightlifter have been preparing in Izumisano, Osaka, since late June for the delayed Games, which begin on 23 July.
“The member is Julius Ssekitoleko, a weightlifter,” a UOC statement explained. “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 Ssekitoleko. We shall keep you posted on any further developments in this regard.”
It is not the first setback for the Ugandan delegation with two members being required to quarantine shortly after arriving in Japan.