Ugandan weightlifter who went missing from pre-Olympic training camp found in central Japan

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Julius Ssekitoleko poses for a photo after arriving in Japan. Courtesy: Uganda Daily Monitor

A Ugandan weightlifter has been found four days after he disappeared from an Olympic training camp in Japan.

20-year-old Julius Ssekitoleko who went missing from the pre-games training camp hotel in Izumisano city on July 16 was found in Mie Prefecture.

“Today, the man was found with no injuries and no involvement in any crime,” an Osaka police official, who declined to be named, told AFP.

“He carried his own ID and identified himself. It is not certain to whom we should send the man — the team or the embassy.”

The alarm was raised on Friday after Ssekitoleko failed to show up for a coronavirus test and was not in his hotel room.

Ssekitoleko left behind his luggage and a note saying he wanted to stay in Japan and work, Izumisano officials said.

He had recently found out he would not be able to compete at the Tokyo Games, which open on Friday, because of a quota system. He was set to return to Uganda this week.

Police said Ssekitoleko had traveled to Nagoya in central Japan and then to nearby Gifu prefecture, before moving south to Mie.

“He was found in a house belonging to people who have a connection to the man. He did not offer resistance. He was talking frankly. We are still questioning him about his motive,”  police said.

When Uganda’s delegation arrived in Japan last month, a coach tested positive on arrival, with another member of the delegation also testing positive later.

Virus cases are rising in Tokyo, which is under a state of emergency, and there is heavy scrutiny in Japan of infection risks linked to the Games.

Athletes and other Olympic participants are subject to strict rules including regular testing and limits on their movement.

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