Uganda weightlifter, Julius Ssekitoleko who had gone missing from an Olympics training camp in Japan has finally returned home.
Ssekitoleko went missing from his hotel room for four days before he was later found in Yokkaichi city, which is 170 kilometers (105 miles) east of his host town in western Japan.
On Friday morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the athlete had successfully landed at Entebbe Airport en route from Japan.
“Mr. Julius Ssekitoleko was seen off at the airport by officials of the Ugandan Embassy and Japanese Immigration Authorities who ensured his safe and orderly passage out of Japan. Upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, he was received by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education and Sports,” a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs read in part.
Following Ssekitoleko’s disappearance, Ugandans have had a divided opinion on the weightlifter’s act.
Whereas many say the action was a disgrace to the country’s reputation and future of other Ugandans who would want to genuinely travel and return home, others say the athlete was looking for greener pastures.
However, in the statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Ssekitoleko violated the code of conduct for the Tokyo games that each team member is mandated to abide by.
“This was signed by the Uganda Olympic Council (UOC), Tokyo 2020 and National Council of Sports. Sections (13) and (15) under part 2 are particularly illustrative of what was expected. Not only had he committed to returning to Uganda but he had also pledged to honour the Country, his Team, and the Olympic Games.”
According to the statement, government will rehabilitate the athlete rather than reprimand him of the actions in Tokyo.
“The government of Uganda is committed to continuous rehabilitation of the athlete to assist him settle to further 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 .”
Over the years, there have been several incidents of Ugandan sportsmen and women disappearing while abroad for international competitions.