Weightlifter found 160 kilometres away from Tokyo Olympics site

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·Sports Reporter
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Julius Ssekitoleko (pictured) lifting during the Commonwealth Games.
Julius Ssekitoleko (pictured) fled his team hotel at the Olympics in Tokyo and is being questioned by police. (Getty Images)

A Ugandan weightlifter is being questioned after he was caught fleeing his pre-Olympic training camp in Japan.

Police found Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko 160km away from his team hotel in Izumisano.

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The disappearance of Ssekitoleko came at a time of high public concern over Covid-19 risks as thousands of foreigners arrive for the Games.

Authorities are questioning the 20-year-old weightlifter after he left his luggage and a note in the team hotel saying he didn't want to return home to his country.

Uganda ranks 159 out of 189 countries in the UN's Human Development index, ranking a nation's "average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living."

Police working out Ssekitoleko motive

"Today, the man was found in Mie Prefecture with no injuries and no involvement in any crime," an Osaka police official, who declined to be named, told AFP.

"He carried his own ID and identified himself. It is not certain to whom we should send the man — the team or the embassy."

Police said Ssekitoleko had travelled to Nagoya in central Japan and then to nearby Gifu prefecture, before moving south to Mie.

"He was found in a house belonging to people who have a connection to the man. He did not offer resistance. He was talking frankly. We are still questioning him about his motive," the police official said.

The Ugandan embassy released a statement and said they would be working with Japanese police for Ssekitoleko's "safe and secure return to Uganda as soon as tomorrow, 21st July, 2021."

Concerns over Ssekitoleko's whereabouts was paramount considering public tension over whether Covid-19 will spill out of the biosecurity bubble of the Olympic village and into Tokyo.

The head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee has failed to rule out cancelling the Games if Covid-19 cases spike.

More athletes tested positive for the virus and sponsors ditched plans to attend Friday's opening ceremony in more crushing blows for the Games committee on Tuesday.

Asked at a news conference if the global sporting showpiece might still be cancelled, Toshiro Muto said he would keep an eye on infection numbers and liaise with other organisers if necessary.

with AFP

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