The Ugandan weightlifter who absconded from his team’s Tokyo 2020 training camp has been found, it has been reported.
Julius Ssekitoleko was discovered in Yokkaichi in the central prefecture of Mie, Kyodo News said while citing police sources.
Ssekitoleko was reported missing from the Ugandan camp in Izumisano on Friday (July 16), prompting a manhunt.
He left a note saying he wanted to live in Japan as life in Uganda was “difficult”, and took the bullet train to Nagoya – about 40 kilometres north of Yokkaichi.
Police said yesterday that they had seen surveillance footage of a man resembling Ssekitoleko at Nagoya station.
The city which will host the Asian Games in 2026 has the second largest Ugandan population in Japan, with 150 people from the African country said to live there.
Ssekitoleko missed out on a place in the men’s Olympic 67 kilogram competition here, but was in the country on a waiting list to compete.
He was expected to travel home today.
Kyodo News said he had a mobile phone with him, but his passport remained with the Ugandan team.
The weightlifter’s disappearance was originally reported when an official failed to find him for a COVID-19 test at his hotel.
He was part of a nine-member Ugandan delegation to travel to Japan last month, with two subsequently testing positive for COVID-19.
One case was reported at the airport, with the second discovered after the team had arrived at the training camp.
This led to the Ugandan team being placed in quarantine and exacerbated the concerns caused by Ssekitoleko’s disappearance.
He reportedly last tested negative before he went missing.
It is not clear what will happen to Ssekitoleko now, with International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams saying Ssekitoleko’s discovery had not been confirmed to them.