Salim Musoke, the president of the Uganda Weightlifting Federation says that Julius Ssekitoleko, a 20-year old weightlifter will be expelled from the sport after he vanished from Japan.
Ssekitoleko traveled to Japan in the hopes of competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but missed the cut and was scheduled to fly back to Uganda on July 20 before the official opening of the Games.
Ssekitoleko, one of nine Ugandans who had been staying in Izumisano – a city in Osaka Prefecture in western Japan – since mid-June was discovered to be missing around noon Friday when he failed to show up for a coronavirus test.
However, Musoke says that he last spoke with Ssekitoleko four days ago and was surprised to hear about the player’s disappearance albeit not being with his travel documents.
“I am praying that they should get this boy,” Musoke told media adding that; “the government of Japan should get this boy, and then we expel him from the sport.”
“When I got the message, I wondered, what happened if they were well guarded! What happened to the security they have been talking about?” a disappointed Musoke added saying that athletes disappearing is not good for the country.
By press time, authorities were already working on the matter with the police conducting a search.
Several Ugandan sportsmen/sportswomen have gone missing while in action abroad, not only in rugby but across other sports disciplines as well.
The other recent incident happened a few weeks ago when Rugby Cranes Sevens (Uganda men’s national rugby 7s) player James Odong went missing from camp in Monaco at the Repechage tournament.
The national rugby 7s team faced a similar incident in the 2014 Commonwealth Games when two players, Benon Kizza and Philip Pariyo went missing after the event hosted in Glasgow, Scotland.
In 2017, Rugby Cranes 7s trio of Ramathan Govule, Brian Kikaawa and Fred Odur vanished after the Oktoberfest 7s in Germany.
Also, during the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, Australia, six Ugandan athletes remained behind, that is; two weightlifters – Irene Kasubo and Kalidi Batuusa – two boxers – Regan Ssimbwa and Nasir Bashir – a table tennis player, Halima Nambozo, and cyclist, Vienna Ssekanga.