By OKELLO ALLAN & AGENCIES
TOKYO, Japan- SHIFTMEDIA- The Ugandan weightlifter who escaped from the camp ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be apprehended, government has disclosed.
The 20-year-old Julius Ssekitoleko who was due to fly back to Uganda today (July 20) after failing to qualify on points for the Olympics disappeared from the Olympics village on July 16 last week.
Now news coming in is that Sports Minister Hamson Obua is travelling to Japan to coordinate the team that is hunting for him.
But apparently, the teenage and aspiring weightlifter is not ready to return to Uganda, saying the conditions back home amidst Covid 19 is terrible.
According to CNN Ssekitoleko left a note saying his life was too difficult and he wanted to work in Japan, officials have said.
Sources said Ssekitoleko was last seen at a local station near his delegation’s hotel in Izumisano at 6:30 a.m. on Friday. The athlete purchased a Shinkansen bullet train ticket to Nagoya, about 200 kilometers away, an Izumisano official told CNN.
In the note, Ssekitoleko said he did not want to return to Uganda and asked the members of his delegation to send his belongings back to his wife, the Izumisano official Added.
City officials first feared he was missing around midday on Friday when they noticed that a Covid-19 test sample had not been submitted by Ssekitoleko, city official Osamu Mizoguchi said.
Local police have been looking for him without success, Mizoguchi added.
Ssekitoleko competed in the Men’s 56kg weightlifting final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, aged just 17. He finished 10th in that contest.
Two Ugandan athletes, and others from Rwanda and Cameroon, previously went missing during those games, which were held in Gold Coast, Australia, PA Media reported at the time.
And two rugby sevens players from Uganda, who went missing after competing in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, were later revealed to have claimed asylum and were playing for a rugby team in Cardiff, the BBC reported in 2015.
Government speaks out
During a meeting with the Japanese ambassador to Uganda on Monday, State Minister for International Relations said Ssekitoleko had abused the patronage between the two nations.
Okello Oryem promised that Uganda would work with the Japanese government to hunt for the missing weightlifter.
He was meeting Fukuzawa Hidemoto, the Japanese ambassador to Uganda who had called on him to discuss the forthcoming 2021 Olympic Games.
Oryem assured the Japanese envoy that all the other remaining Uganda athletes would be guarded to ensure a similar scenario doesn’t occur again,
This assurance said Oryem will be handled by Sports State Minister Hamson Obua.
The official opening of the Olympics takes place on Friday, with no spectators due to the Covid 19 restrictions.