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Olympian Who Ran Away, Didn’t Want To Go Back To His Own Country Found In Japan

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Harry Wilmerding Contributor
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A Ugandan athlete who went missing Friday was found by Japanese police on Tuesday, officials said. 

Julius Ssekitoleko, 20, left his hotel in Izumisano on Friday after failing to report to his coronavirus test, the New York Times first reported.  He left a note that he did not want to return to Uganda due to the hard lifestyle and asked for his belongings to be shipped to his wife. 

Police found Ssekitoleko in Yokkaichi, a city 105 miles east of Izumisano, and remains in custody as officials continue questioning, according to the Associated Press. (RELATED: Coco Gauff Tests Positive For COVID-19, Will Not Compete In Tokyo Olympics)

The Uganda Olympic Committee Secretary General, Beatrice Ayikoru, confirmed that Ssekitoleko has been found but did not reveal more about the situation, according to the BBC.

“He has been located and is with the (unspecified) authorities in the office in Izumisano,” Ayikoru said. “We are working together with our embassy in Tokyo to ensure that he flies safely to Uganda.”

The Ugandan Embassy in Tokyo confirmed that they are trying to fly Ssekitoleko to Uganda as early as Wednesday, according to the BBC. 

“Any issue to do with alleged absconding from the duty he had been flown to perform in Japan and related disappearance from the training camp, will be handled appropriately on his return to Uganda,” the Embassy said. 

Ssekitoleko purchased a train ticket to Nagoya, roughly 200 kilometers from Izumisano, and was found at the JR Nagoya Station, according to Kyodo News

He was traveling with a cellphone but without his passport, which was being held by the Ugandan Olympic team, Kyodo News reported. 

Ssekitoleko was told he did not make the quota for the Olympics on July 5 and was scheduled to fly home to Uganda with his coach on July 20, according to the BBC. 

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