Julius Ssekitoleko was reported missing from the Ugandan team’s training camp in Izumisano, a city in Osaka, Western Japan. The 20-year-old failed to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and was scheduled to return to Uganda next Tuesday.
Ssekitoleko’s note indicated that he wants to remain and work in Japan as life in Uganda was “difficult.” He was last seen at a nearby train station, buying a bullet train ticket to Nagoya in central Japan.
The Olympic Games and other international sporting events have long-since seen athletes unhappy with life in their home country claim asylum or, in the days of the Cold War, defect. The first Olympic defector was Czech Marie Provaznikova, president of the International Gymnastics Federation, who left for the London Olympics in 1948, but traveled onwards to America, where she lived for the rest of her life.
Most recently two athletes from Guinea failed to return home from the Rio 2016 games, while 21 athletes and coaches went missing from the London 2012 Olympic Village with a further 82 athletes, coaches and Olympic delegates applying for asylum during the games.
In other sporting news, Tom Brady reveals he played entire Superbowl-winning season with a torn knee ligament.