TOPLINE: A Ugandan athlete training in Japan in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics went missing on Friday, triggering a search by local officials and police, in an incident that has raised doubt about the security measures put in place by the games’ organizers to keep the spread of Covid-19 in check.
Julius Ssekitoleko, a 20-year-old Ugandan weightlifter, was not found in his designated accommodation when a local official attempted to find him to receive his sample for Covid-19 testing, Kyodo Newsreported.
Ssekitoleko was staying in the city of Izumisano in western Japan along with other members of the Ugandan Olympic team.
The missing athlete was last spotted by his teammates at around 12:30 am on Friday, city officials said.
The Ugandan Olympics delegation reached Japan last month and they were among the first group of visiting athletes to reach the country to prepare for the summer games. After their arrival, two members of the delegation tested positive for Covid-19, which prevented the team from beginning their training activities. The team finally started training in Izumisano last week after undergoing a strict quarantine.
Visiting athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are expected to follow a stringent set of pandemic-related rules which includes regular testing and having their movement restricted. As part of the rules unveiled last month, all participating athletes and officials will be screened for the virus daily and are required to provide saliva samples at set times. Athletes, who can only stay in officially approved accommodations, will have their movements restricted and will be subject to GPS tracking by officials. The rulebook warns that non-compliance will result in large fines, permanent bans from the Olympics and even expulsion from Japan, depending on the severity of the breach.
By Siladitya Ray, Forbes Staff