Uganda is dispatching the state sports minister Hamson Obua to Japan to coordinate the search for missing Ugandan athlete Julius Ssekitoleko.

Jonah Kirabo
Courtesy: Denis Hamson Obua

Ssekitoleko, who travelled with the Ugandan national team to participate in the Olympic Games, disappeared from the training camp a few days ago.

The weight lifter reportedly left behind a note apologising for absconding from the team and explaining that he wished to live and work in Japan.

Japan and Uganda have joined efforts to track him down.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem condemned Ssekitoleko’s decision to illegally try to relocate to Japan.

Oryem said that both the Japan and Uganda governments are working closely to ensure that the athlete is returned home.

Oryem made these remarks while addressing the press shortly after his closed door meeting with His Excellency Fukuzawa Hidemoto, the ambassador of Japan to Uganda.

Foreign Affairs minister Okello Oryem (right) with counterpart Japanese Ambassador Hidemoto

“The Minister of State for Education in charge of Sports Hamson Obua will be travelling to Japan to coordinate investigations in the search (of Ssekitoleko), we are working closely with the government of Japan,” Minister Oryem told the press.

Ssekitoleko, a weightlifter disappeared from an Olympic training camp in Japan, leaving behind a note saying he wanted to find work in Japan, Japanese officials said Friday.

According to a statement from the host city Izumisano, authorities became concerned when Ssekitoleko failed to show up for a coronavirus test and was not in his hotel room.

Ugandan sports officials said on Friday that the athlete had recently found out he would not be able to compete at the Games because of a quota system.

Amb. Hidemoto acknowledged the regrets expressed by the Minister on behalf of government of Uganda on the missing athlete and appreciated the efforts so far in addressing this matter.

Hidemoto assured the Ugandan government that the matter would be handled to its logical conclusion.

Minister Oryem re-affirmed the commitment of Uganda’s athletes to adhere to the requirements put in place by the Japanese Government to successfully host the Olympics Games despite the disruptions presented by the COVID – 19 pandemic.