Ugandan Olympic athlete Julius Siketoliko, whose whereabouts have not been known since Friday 16th, fled with the intention of starting a new life, according to a note found in his room where he wrote: “I want to work in Japan.”
Weightlifter Julius Siketoliko, 20, has been in Izumisano, the Japanese city where the Ugandan Olympic team has been setting up accommodation and training facilities ahead of the Tokyo Olympics since the end of June.
The athlete left the hotel where he was without warning and bought a high-speed rail (Shinkansen) ticket to Nagoya, about 200 kilometers away, early Friday, according to new details of the investigation released by local Kyodo News on Saturday.
According to Izumisano officials, Sikitoliko wrote in his memo that he did not want to return to Uganda due to the difficult living conditions in the African country, and asked members of his delegation to hand over their property to his wife in their home country.
The athlete’s whereabouts remain unknown at the moment, although a Ugandan representative was able to reach him by phone on Friday afternoon without obtaining further information.
Staff supervising the sports delegation’s residence in Izumisano noticed Seketoliko’s absence when he failed to show up Friday morning to deliver the required daily COVID-19 test.
The athlete was in the room the night before, according to his teammates. The weightlifter is one of nine athletes on the team who were quarantined after two positives were discovered on the team. COVID-19 Upon his arrival in Japan on June 19, he continued to undergo the daily tests stipulated in the Tokyo 2020 antiviral regulations, along with the rest of the team.
A municipal spokesperson confirmed to Efe the day before that all recent tests had been negative.
In a statement sent to Kyodo, Beatrice Ayekoro, Ugandan Olympic mission chief, said Sikitoliko will return home with his coach next week, and emphasized that during regular briefings, the team emphasized the need to “respect Japanese immigration regulations and not choose to leave the camp without permission.”
The President of the Uganda Weightlifting Federation Selim Musuk Senkongo, noted that the athlete had trained “hard” for his first major international competition, but this week he reported that he cannot compete. “He was participating in the 61 kg category, but we advised him to pass the 67 kg test for administrative reasons,” Sencongo said in an interview with AFP.
Strict regulations put in place for the “bubble” Tokyo Games in the midst of the pandemic ban athletes or other event participants from traveling anywhere other than their hotel, training venue or locations previously approved by the organization.
The incident occurred a week after the Olympics opened in the Japanese capital and raised concerns about anti-COVID-19 measures implemented for the event and amid a rebound in COVID-19 cases in the capital.
With information from the EFE and AFP.