Ugandan Weightlifter Is Missing in Japan Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

One Olympic hopeful from Uganda, 20-year-old Julius Ssekitoleko, reportedly went missing from his hotel room just one week before the Tokyo Olympics. He has been training in Osaka for several days.

By Lindsay Weinberg Jul 16, 2021 11:01 PMTags

One Olympic hopeful has reportedly gone missing in Japan ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games

Officials began searching for Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko on Friday, July 16, after he didn't turn in a saliva sample, according to the Associated Press via NBC News. City officials said he was last seen in his hotel room in the early hours of Friday morning, but he was gone when they checked the room around noon. The hotel reportedly doesn't have 24-hour surveillance. 

The 20-year-old athlete has been training as part of a nine-member team near Izumisano, Osaka, but no training was held on Friday morning, the AP reports. 

Katsunobu Kato, the chief cabinet secretary to the Japanese Prime Minister, told The New York Times that police have been instructed to make an "all-out effort" to locate Ssekitoleko.

He did not qualify to participate in the Olympics and was scheduled to return to Uganda on Tuesday, July 20, according to Salim Musoke, the president of the Uganda Weightlifting Federation, to the NYT. Musoke said all the athletes had turned over their passports and called the hotel "well-guarded."

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Per the AP, the incident raises more questions about security at the event amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Ugandan team landed on June 19 at Narita International Airport and one member had to quarantine there after testing positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew traveled to Izumisano, but another team member tested positive days later. Both East African competitors were infected with the delta variant, and started training on July 7 after their quarantine. 

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

On Friday, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told Olympic organizers to increase surveillance at hotels to ensure coronavirus rules are obeyed, according to the AP, as the host tries to keep international athletes isolated from the general public.

The Olympics kicks off on July 23 and runs through Aug. 8.

E! News has reached out to local police, the Uganda Weightlifting Federation and the International Olympic Committee for comment.

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