Osaka – A Ugandan athlete who is missing from his pre-Olympic training camp in Osaka Prefecture left a note saying he hoped to work in Japan because life is difficult in his home country, a local official said Friday.
According to the official, the message from Julius Ssekitoleko, a 20-year-old weightlifter, was found at his accommodation in Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture.
Police are now conducting a search for the athlete, local officials and the team said Friday.
Ssekitoleko was not at his accommodations when an official attempted to receive his sample for a coronavirus test at around noon Friday, about 12 hours since he was last seen, the city said.
All delegation members must submit their samples for COVID-19 testing in the morning, but the official did not receive Ssekitoleko’s sample by noon, according to the city.
He was last seen at his accommodations at around 12:30 a.m. by a teammate, according to Izumisano officials.
The nine-member Ugandan delegation arrived at Narita Airport near Tokyo on June 19 as one of the first teams to come to Japan for the games, but two members have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The head of the Ugandan delegation confirmed that Ssekitoleko has gone missing.
In a statement, Beatrice Ayikoru, the chef de mission of the delegation, said it was anticipated that the weightlifter would qualify for the Olympics, but he did not and was due to return to Uganda 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, adding that it is cooperating with local authorities in the search.
Following the two COVID-19 cases on the team, Ugandan athletes only started training in the city last week after they had refrained from doing so.
The first Ugandan member in his 50s had tested positive for the virus upon arrival at the airport. While the remaining eight members traveled to Izumisano, a second person in their 20s was found to be infected, raising concern over Japan’s border control measures.
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