Ugandan Weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko Missing in Japan Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Adam WellsJuly 16, 2021

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 05:  Julius Ssekitoleko of Uganda competes during the Weightlifting Men's 56kg Final on day one of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on April 5, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko is missing in Japan leading up to the Tokyo Olympics. 

Per Motoko Rich, Makiko Inoue and Hisako Ueno of the New York Times, Olympic officials said they have been unable to locate Ssekitoleko after he failed to show up for a mandatory COVID-19 test Friday afternoon. 

Rob Picheta and Junko Ogura of CNN.com reported officials said Ssekitoleko left a note "saying his life in the African country was too difficult and he wanted to work in Japan."

The Times noted that the 20-year-old is among nine Ugandan athletes who have been staying at Izumisano, a city in Osaka Prefecture, since last month as they continue to prepare for the start of the Games. 

Per the New York Times, Salim Musoke, the president of the Uganda Weightlifting Federation, said Ssekitoleko didn't qualify for the Olympics and was scheduled to travel back to Uganda on Tuesday. 

According to Mari Yamaguchi of the Associated Press, Hiroyasu Chiyomatsu, mayor of Izumisano, said officials "received reports of possible sightings of Ssekitoleko at a nearby train station."

In April, Olympic organizers and the International Olympic Committee unveiled plans for a bubble that athletes would be required to stay in during the Games. 

The plan also includes mandatory daily coronavirus testing for every Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The bubble locations include the Olympic Village as well as venues and training areas.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan's prime minister, announced last week that the Olympics would be held without spectators in the stands because of the recent state-of-emergency declaration in the country. 

According to the New York Times, one coach and one athlete from Uganda's athlete delegation tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in Japan last month, but it's unknown if Ssekitoleko was one of them.