Concern as Ugandan weightlifter reported missing amid Tokyo Olympics lockdown

Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko has been reported missing in Japan after he failed to turn up for a required Covid test.

Officials said on Friday police were making an “all-out effort” to find the 20-year-old who was taking part in a training camp near Osaka.

Ssekitoleko had been staying in Izumisano in a bubble environment to help stop the spread of Covid as Japan is currently in a state of emergency.

Two members of the Ugandan Olympic delegation tested positive for Covid last month but it is not clear if Ssekitoleko was among them.

Salim Musoke, the president of the Uganda Weightlifting Federation, said the last time he spoke to the athlete was three days ago.

Julius Ssekitoleko has reportedly gone missing in Japan

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.”

Yuji Fukuoka, a spokesman for the city of Izumisano, added: “All we want is that he’s found as soon as possible. He might be having a tough time.”

Bubble conditions in Tokyo, for the games which start on July 23, have been criticised by athletes who have to remain either at their hotel, Olympic venues or training grounds.

British weightlifter Sarah Davies said on Instagram : “We have what we call the prison yard.

“So we can literally walk up and down this stretch between the hours of 7 am and 10 am, and that is the only time we’re allowed outside.

“Genuinely, feels like we’re in prison. But, hey, it is what it is… Welcome to Olympic Games, Covid edition.”

And Australian basketball player Liz Cambage has withdrawn from the event on mental health grounds.

She said: “No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team. It’s honestly terrifying for me.”

Supporters will not be attending the Olympics due to the Covid situation in Japan and many have criticised the event going ahead in the pandemic.

Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto said about having no crowds: “This is a sorry message that we have to announce, but this was the only choice available to take.

There have been several calls to cancel the games
There have been several calls to cancel the games

“They [athletes] wanted a lot of people to watch their performances, but many of the Japanese public were worried about the Covid-19 situation, even with the solid countermeasures, because of the flow of people and because of various concerns.

“The anxiety is being expressed and a lot of people are opposed. Every person is entitled to have every different thought but overriding these differences, athletes will do their best.”

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