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How Ugandan weightlifter who vanished in Japan was found

URN FILE PHOTO: Ssekitoleko in action in a past event

Tokyo, Japan | THE INDEPENDENT | Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko who went missing last week in Izumisano Japan has been found four days after his disappearance.

Ssekitoleko, 26, vanished from his hotel room in Izumisano where he was camped with his fellow athletes who were part of the first batch of Ugandans to go for the summer games. The alarm was raised on Friday after Ssekitoleko failed to show up for a routine coronavirus test and was not in his hotel room.

Uganda Olympics committee (IOC) through Beatrice Ayikoru, who is the chef de mission of Uganda’s Tokyo campaign, has confirmed that the vanished athlete has been found after efforts by the embassy of Uganda in Japan. She said the authorities are preparing his safe return to the country.

According to reports from Japan, the vanished athlete was found in the Yokkaichi city, which is 170 kilometers east of his host town in western Japan and he is being kept at police at Mie Prefectural, Central Japan.

A day earlier, Foreign Affairs state minister Okello Oryem while addressing journalists said police and the Sports ministry have to investigate how the runaway Olympian got accreditation to represent Uganda at the Games.

Ssekitoleko arrived in Japan before his qualification for the Games had been confirmed. He was later informed by the International Weightlifting Federation on 5th July 2021 that he had not made the mark for the Olympics, the UOC had arranged for him and his coach to return to Uganda on 20 July.

Ssekitoleko before disappearing from his room in the hotel, he left a note saying he hoped to work in Japan because life is difficult in his home country.

Ayikoru also revealed that the other athletes who were in the first contingent have already arrived in the Olympic village and they are expected to start the final preparations tomorrow. They include three boxers and one weightlifter.

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