Tokyo 2020: Controversy erupts as Ugandan weightlifter goes missing from hotel room

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Tokyo 2020 organisers said they were searching for Julius Ssekitoleko, 20, who failed to show up for a coronavirus (COVID-19) test and was not in his hotel room, host city Izumisano said in a statement.

“Ugandan weightlifter Julius Sekitoleko has gone missing from his hotel near an athletic training camp with a week from the opening of the Tokyo Games.He’s one of the 9 Ugandans stationed in Izumisano a town in Japan with hopes of taking part in the Tokyo Olympics,” an official tweet said.

An AFP news agency report said Ugandan sports officials said the athlete had recently found out he would not be able to compete at the Games because of a quota system.

Uganda Weightlifting Federation President Sam Musoke was quoted as saying by the New York Times daily that Ssekitoleko failed to qualify for competition and was scheduled to fly back to Uganda on July 20. However, he seemingly fled instead, leaving a note behind saying that he wished to stay in Japan and work.

The Ugandan team has caused problems for Japan’s health and surveillance system in the build up to the Games. A member of the team tested positive for COVID-19 upon their arrival in the country at Narita International Airport on June 19.

Several days later, another member of the team also had a positive test, forcing seven town officials and drivers who had close contact with him to be put in quarantine.

The rescheduled Tokyo Games will start on July 23 without entry for spectators and will run till August 8.

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