An Ugandan weightlifter who went missing from an Olympic training camp on Friday reportedly left a note saying he wanted to stay in Japan, adding to confusion ahead of the Games which begin next week.
Julius Ssekitoleko was reported missing after failing to turn up for a Covid-19 test, with officials saying on Friday that police were making an ‘all-out effort' to find the 20-year-old, who was taking part in the Ugandan training camp near Osaka.
Further media reports suggest Ssekitoleko left behind a note saying he wanted to stay and work in Japan, as life in Uganda was difficult.
Ssekitoleko had not qualified to take part in the Tokyo Games, and was due to return to Uganda next Tuesday.
A nearby train station recorded him purchasing a bullet train ticket to Nagoya in central Japan, the reports said.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, is being held under tight quarantine rules, restricting participants' movements to prevent the spread of infections.
It is another setback for the Ugandan team after two members of their Olympic delegation tested positive for Covid after arriving in Japan last month. It is not clear if Ssekitoleko was one of them.
After news of his disappearance, Ugandan Weightlifting Federation president Salim Musoke said on Friday the last time he spoke to the athlete was on Tuesday, July 13.
He told the New York Times: ‘When I got the message, I wondered, what happened if they were well guarded. What happened to the security they have been talking about?
‘Athletes disappearing is not good for the country. I am praying that they should get this boy. The government of Japan should get this boy, and then we expel him from the sport.'