A Ugandan Athlete Has Been Reported Missing From Training Camp In Japan

TOKYO — Local authorities are looking for a Ugandan athlete who went missing in western Japan on Friday, raising worries about Japanese organizers’ monitoring of Olympic athletes amid local coronavirus fears.

Julius Ssekitoleko, 20, was last seen practicing with a nine-member Ugandan squad in Izumisano, Osaka prefecture, according to municipal officials.

When the athlete’s saliva test sample was not delivered and his hotel room was empty, teammates noticed he was missing about midday Friday, according to municipal officials. He was last seen in his room in the early hours of Friday morning since there was no training.

Officials alerted police when they were unable to locate him within the hotel.

Ssekitoleko, who did not satisfy Olympic requirements in the most recent international rankings, was expected to return home next week, according to media sources. According to the Kyodo News Agency, he left a message expressing his desire to remain in Japan and work.

Hiroyasu Chiyomatsu, the mayor of Izumisano, claimed officials had received reports of probable Ssekitoleko sightings at a local railway station.

Despite growing anxiety about an outbreak of illnesses in Tokyo, the pandemic-affected Olympics begin on July 23. After reaching a six-month high of 1,308 cases the day before, the host city recorded 1,271 cases on Friday.

Uganda’s squad has previously been highlighted in Japan’s health and surveillance system.

A member of the squad tested positive and was quarantined at Narita International Airport on June 19, but the remaining eight members were permitted to travel more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) on a rented bus to Izumisano, their pre-Olympics camp in the western prefecture of Osaka.

Seven town officials and drivers who had close contact with the team were forced to self-isolate after a second member of the East African squad tested positive for the virus a few days later. Both affected Ugandans had the delta variant, according to health officials.

Since July 7, both team members have completed their quarantine requirements, and the squad has begun training.

The instance led the Japanese government to tighten border restrictions and modify its isolation policy, which now requires whole groups to be quarantined in airport facilities if one of its members tests positive.

While Japanese officials have mandated the usage of health and location applications, as well as limiting activities to a “bubble” to completely separate players from the Japanese public, there have been reports of breaches.

At a number of hotels, the monitors promised by Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa have not been observed operationally. Marukawa told reporters on Friday that she is requesting that organizers beef up security and add hotel monitoring workers to ensure that the regulations are obeyed.

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