Ugandan athlete runs away from hotel to ‘work in Japan’

Tokyo, July 17 (EFE).- A Ugandan Olympic athlete has gone missing from a hotel in Osaka and has left a note to state that he was running away because he wanted to work in Japan, according to probe details published in local media on Saturday.

Weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko, 20, participated in a pre-Olympic training camp.

He was living in Izumisano in western Japan since June end with other Ugandan Olympians.

The weightlifter purchased a Shinkansen bullet train ticket from a local station to Nagoya, about 200 km away, soon after leaving his hotel room on Friday, Kyodo news agency said.

Ssekitoleko wrote that he did not want to return to Uganda because life in the African country was difficult.

He urged his team members to hand over his belongings to his wife in Uganda, city officials said.

His whereabouts were unknown until Saturday morning, even as a Ugandan representative contacted him by phone on Friday evening.

He said he was not in a situation to talk and hung up, the news agency said.

The officials, who supervised the stay of the athletes in Izumisano, noticed his absence when the weightlifter did not show up on Friday morning for the Covid-19 test.

His colleagues saw him in his room the previous night.

Kyodo News, citing a statement from Beatrice Ayikoru, the chef de mission of the Ugandan delegation, said the athlete was due to head home with his coach next Tuesday.

“We, during our regular team briefings both in Uganda and in Japan, emphasized inter alia the need to respect the immigration regulations of Japan and not opt to leave the camp without authorization,” the chief of the team said.

He said they were cooperating with local authorities to locate the missing athlete.

The organizers have created special bubbles to restrict the movement of athletes due to the pandemic.

The incident has occurred a week before the Olympic Games begin in the Japanese capital on July 23.

It has raised concern about the anti-covid measures for the event amid a rebound in coronavirus infection in the metropolis.

Many Japanese, including experts and the central government, have expressed concern that the Games could act as a coronavirus super-spreader as Tokyo sees a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Organizers maintain their stance on holding “safe” Games amid strict health restrictions, including the cancellation of the traditional Olympic torch relay to the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony. EFE


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