As a historically closed off nation, Japan has met the prospect of hosting the Olympics during a global pandemic with a great deal of trepidation over the influx of foreigners and the potential for the spread of COVID-19. While Olympic organizers have touted a plan to mitigate any risk of the spread of illness to the local population, one athlete is now unaccounted for in the leadup to the start of the Olympic Games on July 24.
According to a report by Mari Yamaguchi of the Associated Press, local officials in the Osaka prefecture are searching for Julius Ssekitoleko, a 20-year old member of the Ugandan national team, after he went missing from the team's hotel during their training camp in Izumisano. Teammates realized that Ssekitoleko was not present when his saliva test was not delivered and his hotel room was found empty.
Sam Musoke, president of the Uganda Weightlifting Federation, told the New York Times that Ssekitoleko failed to qualify for competition and was scheduled to fly back to Uganda on July 20. However, he seemingly fled instead, leaving a note behind saying that he wished to stay in Japan and work.
The Ugandan team has caused problems for Japan's health and surveillance system in the build up to the Games. A member of the team tested positive for COVID-19 upon their arrival in the country at Narita International Airport on June 19. Several days later, another member of the team also had a positive test, forcing seven town officials and drivers who had close contact with him to be put in quarantine.
While the Tokyo Olympics are expected to proceed starting next week, national resistance to hosting the games amid the pandemic remains ever present with Tokyo in a state of emergency due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases. According to a report by Dan Cacian of Newsweek, a recent Ipsos Global Advisor poll revealed that 78% of Japanese respondents believe that the Olympics should not go ahead as planned.