Julius Ssekitoleko, a Ugandan athlete who went missing from an Olympics training camp in Japan has finally been returned home.
The weightlifter last week on Friday caused a stir when he went missing from his hotel room for four days before he eventually handed himself back after hearing the news that the Ugandan government and the authorities in Japan were in search of him. He was located in Yokkaichicity which is 170 kilometers east of his host town in Western Japan.
This Friday morning, Ssekitoleko arrived at Entebbe Airport and was received by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education and Sports.
In a Statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that they will rehabilitate the weightlifter instead of persecuting him as they had earlier said in the previous statements.
“ The government of Uganda is committed to continuous rehabilitation of the athlete to assist him settle to further settle develop his career but also help him understand, how such acts of misconduct can not only affect him as an athlete but also other athletes in the sports sector and the nation at large,” a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ssekitoleko’s disappearance caused a heated debate among Ugandans where some attributed his action as move to look for greener pastures since life has become difficult due to the current lockdown restrictions in the country. While others said he was tainting the country’s image which may cost other athletes in future who would want to genuinely travel and return home.
However, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ssekitoleko violated the code of conduct for the Tokyo games that each athlete from another country is mandated to abide by.
The document signed by the Uganda Olympic Council (UOC), Tokyo 2020 and the National council of sports section 13 and 15 under part two clearly stipulates that the participants are committed to returning to their country after the games are done.
There have been several incidences over the years of Ugandan sports men and women disappearing while abroad for athlete competitions. This is why this time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education and Sports had to pursue the case of Ssekitoleko to put a stop to this misconduct.