Ugandan athlete disappears in Japan, a few days before the start of the Tokyo Olympics

But where is Julius Ssekitoleko? The Ugandan weightlifter disappeared after failing to appear for a Covid-19 test, local Japanese authorities announced on Friday, July 16.

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This 20-year-old athlete disappeared from the Izumisano hotel, near Osaka where he was staying with his group, the authorities of this municipality which hosts their base camp announced in a statement.

The young athlete was last seen in his hotel by his compatriots shortly after midnight on the night of Thursday to Friday, said local authorities, who warned the police.

On waiting list

Julius Ssekitoleko was on a waiting list for the Olympics but recently lost all hope of participating due to Olympic quotas. He was due to return to his country soon.

He was among the first group of nine Ugandan athletes, coaches and executives who arrived in Japan in mid-June, and two non-athletic members had tested positive for coronavirus soon after. The whole group had to do quarantine in stride.

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Uganda Weightlifting Federation president Salim Musoke Ssenkungu told AFP that 20-year-old Ssekitoleko has been training ” very difficult “ for his first Olympic weightlifting competition, but was told this week that he would not be allowed to compete.

“He was competing in the 61 kg category, but he was advised to pass the 67 kg test for administrative reasons” not determined, said Salim Musoke Ssenkungu.

“If someone is in Japan and thinks he is going to compete, but receives bad news, he is obviously going to be upset”, he stressed. “He felt confident because he won bronze (at the African Weightlifting Championships) in Nairobi in May”.

Olympic Games under restrictions

Although he only recently entered senior competitions, Ssekitoleko has significant international experience, having competed in events in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Egypt.

Drastic restrictions have been planned in Japan for all participants in the Tokyo Olympics (July 23-August 8), as the health crisis worsens in the country.

In particular, athletes must be tested daily and their movements are extremely restricted, limited between their accommodation, their training centers and their competition venues.

Almost all Olympic events will also take place behind closed doors, the organizers decided last week.

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