Julius Ssekitoleko, a 20-year old Ugandan weightlifter who vanished in Japan last week on Friday, 16th July has been
found in Yokkaichi in the central prefecture of Mie, Japanese police said Tuesday, 20th July.
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 today, July 20 before the official opening of the Games. Ssekitoleko had been staying in Izumisano – a city in Osaka Prefecture in western Japan – since mid-June but his absence was noticed when he failed to show up for a coronavirus test.
Reports in Japan indicate that Ssekitoleko has been taken into protective custody, and is responding to questioning with occasional tears, according to the police.
After vanishing, Ssekitoleko reportedly purchased a Shinkansen bullet train ticket to Nagoya on Friday morning, the city officials said. He had a mobile phone but his passport was kept by the Ugandan team, which arrived in Japan on June 19.
The Osaka police said Ssekitoleko arrived at JR Nagoya Station, about 200 kilometers from Izumisano, on Friday and joined a Ugandan man believed to be someone he knew in advance in the major central city and then moved to the neighboring prefecture of Gifu.
Nagoya is the prefectural capital of Aichi, where about 150 Ugandan people – the second-largest Ugandan community in Japan – were living as of late last year, according to government data.
Taking a tip from the man, Ssekitoleko was visiting Yokkaichi about 40 kilometers to the south of Nagoya, and found by a police officer, the police said, adding he showed no signs of resistance.
After vanishing, Ssekitoleko left a note at his hotel saying he wanted to work in Japan as life in his home country (Uganda) was difficult. The note he also asked members of his delegation to give his belongings to his wife in Uganda, according to the Izumisano officials.
The Olympics will run from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan with 25 Ugandan athletes (13 females and 12 males) set to be in the mix.