A Ugandan athlete has gone missing ahead of the start of the Olympic games in Tokyo next week, according to a Japanese government official, and a police search has begun.
20-year-old weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko has been in Japan since mid-June in preparation for the games, but went missing before his PCR Covid test was due to take place earlier today.
All athletes taking part in this year’s Olympic Games are the subject of rigorous Covid-19 protocols to ensure that that the games will take place without a hitch. That is in reaction to growing concerns over the spread of the virus in Tokyo, with 1,308 cases of the disease being recorded as recently as Thursday. It is also in line with fears that they have entered another wave of Covid-19 infections, and they are fast approaching the peak of their winter wave of the virus.
“A Ugandan athlete in Japan for the Olympics has gone missing, and the team's host city in western Japan is conducting a search with police,” a Japanese government spokesperson said.
Yuji Fukuoka, a spokesman for the city of Izumisano, said, “All we want is that he’s found as soon as possible. He might be having a tough time.”
A Ugandan Olympics athlete in Japan has gone missing, and the team's host city is conducting a search with police, Japan's top government spokesman said on Friday. NHK say it's a weightlifter, and that an official at the host city noticed he was missing during a PCR test.
— Mari Saito (@saitomri) July 16, 2021
Before the start of the Olympic Games, it was believed that the athletes village could operate as a bubble of sorts, with athletes being able to freely move around the place. That, however, is not to the case. The 18,000 athletes encouraged to stay on their own during their stay at the village.
This comes shortly after organisers confirmed that there would be no spectators attending the games.
That will not be the only thing different about this year’s delayed Olympics, however, with medal ceremonies also set for a revamp due to current restrictions.
Rather than having medal placed on them, athletes are expected to have to pick up their medals themselves.
It is unknown whether or not the Ugandan athlete will be found or not, but, as far as starts go, this is probably one that organisers would not have hoped for.