Ugandan Weightlifter with Hopes of Qualifying for Tokyo Olympics Missing in Japan

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Julius Ssekitoleko
Julius Ssekitoleko

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Julius Ssekitoleko

Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko is currently missing in Japan.

Officials discovered that the 20-year-old athlete, an Olympic hopeful who arrived in the country mid-June, was missing on Friday, after he did not show up for a scheduled COVID-19 test, according to The New York Times.

Officials also found that his hotel room in Izumisano was empty, after which they notified the authorities.

Izumisano mayor Hiroyasu Chiyomatsu said that they had received reports that the athlete had been sighted at a train station, per the Associated Press. Kyodo News agency also reported that the athlete left a note in his hotel room about not wanting to return home.

"All we want is that he's found as soon as possible," Yuji Fukuoka, a city spokesman, told The New York Times. "He might be having a tough time."

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Although Ssekitoleko traveled to Japan with hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, he did not and was scheduled to fly back home next week, according to the Times.

"When I got the message, I wondered, what happened if they were well guarded," Salim Musoke, the president of the Uganda Weightlifting Federation told the newspaper after learning of Ssekitoleko's disappearance, noting that the athlete had previously handed over his passport.

In order to try and prevent the spread of the virus, Olympic organizers have imposed strict rules for foreign athletes, whose travel is supposed to be limited to hotels and training venues. Tokyo is also currently under a new state of emergency, which will be in place for the entirety of the Olympics.

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Upon their arrival in mid-June, a member of the Ugandan Olympic team tested positive for COVID-19, with a second testing positive days later, according to the Associated Press. After having ended their quarantine requirements, both team members resumed training earlier this month.

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A search for the missing athlete is currently underway by police and local officials.

"We understand that Izumisano City has been searching for the person who has gone missing," a spokesman for the Tokyo organizing committee told the Times in a statement. "We hope the person will be found very soon."

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23rd on NBC.

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