Julius Ssekitoleko, the Ugandan weightlifter who disappeared from an Olympic training camp in Japan has safely been returned to the country, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ssekitoleko went missing on July 16 from the Olympic village facilities in Izumisano City, Japan leaving a note saying he wanted to find work in the Asian country .
Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) would describe Ssekitoleko’s action as one that “did not meet the set Olympic standards”.
“His action unfortunately violated the Code of Conduct which each member of the Team pledged to abide by. This was signed by the Uganda Olympic Council (UOC), Tokyo 2020 and National Council of Sports. Sections (13) and (15) under part 2 are particularly illustrative of what was expected,” said MOFA.
“Not only had he committed to returning to Uganda but he had also pledged to honour the Country, his Team, and the Olympic Games.”
As such, Uganda’s MOFA together with the Japanese authorities and the Ugandan Embassy in Japan, launched his search until when he was found on July 20 in a house belonging to people he is connected to in Gifu prefecture near Nagoya in Central Japan.
Arrangements were made to have him returned to Uganda and on Thursday he was seen off at the Airport by officials of the Ugandan Embassy and Japanese Immigration Authorities
Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport on Friday morning, he was received by officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education and Sports.
“The Government of Uganda is committed to continous rehabilitation of the Athlete to assist him settle to further develop his career but also help him understand how such acts of misconduct can not only affect him as an athlete but also other athletes in the Sports sector and the Nation at large,” says MOFA.
Ssekitoleko is not the first Ugandan sportsperson to disappear in similar circumstances. In 2018, six Ugandan athletes disappeared in Australia where they had gone for Gold Coast Common Wealth Games. In June 2021, James Odong, a rugby player, disappeared from his hotel room in Monaco, France, where the national team had gone for repechage qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics.