Tokyo Olympics: Ugandan weightlifter who went missing returns home

Friday July 23 2021
Julius Ssekitoleko

Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko. PHOTO | POOL


A Ugandan weightlifter who recently hit the headlines after vanishing from the Olympic village is now back home.

Mr Julius Ssekitoleko jetted back to Uganda on Friday morning aboard a Qatar Airways flight.

He made news last week when he disappeared from the Olympic village in Japan on Friday. He disappeared from Izumisano City where Team Uganda had pitched camp in preparation of the World Olympic Games that open Friday.

Mr Ssekitoleko did not meet the set Olympic standards in the latest International rankings and consequently fled the camp during training. He left a note behind saying he wanted to find work. 

Alarm was raised after Mr Ssekitoleko failed to show up for a coronavirus test and was not in his hotel room.

He was found four days later in Mie Prefecture, on Tuesday, in a joint operation between Japanese authorities and the Ugandan Embassy in Japan.


“His actions 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. Not only had he committed to returning to Uganda but he had also pledged to honour the country, his team, and the Olympic Games,” a statement from Uganda's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads.

Mr Ssekitoleko, who arrived at Entebbe International Airport at about 8am, was received by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education and Sports.

“The government of Uganda is committed to continuous 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 nation at large,” the statement further reads.