Missing Ugandan weightlifter seen wearing old India tracksuit jacket

Indian authorities in Tokyo were baffled on Thursday when Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko, who was sent back to his country four days after he fled during pre-Olympic training, was seen wearing an Indian track jacket at the airport.

The 20-year-old, who was found in central Japan, was seen wearing a red tracksuit top with India writing on the back as he walked through Narita Airport in a report broadcast by the NTV channel here.

It looked like the kit Indian athletes wore at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Rajeev Mehta has made it clear that the clothes are not the country’s official attire for the Tokyo Games, which are due to open on Friday.

“This color does not belong to the Indian NOC at the Tokyo Olympics,” Mehta told PTI.

Ugandan mission chief Aisha Nassanga also did not know how Ssekitoleko got an Indian sweat jacket.

“I have no idea. He came to train in Japan on June 18, maybe someone gave it to him. Maybe he could be an elder,” Nassanga said.

Ssekitoleko, who competes in the men’s 56 kg category, was part of a nine-member Ugandan team training in Izumisano, Osaka prefecture.

Officials and teammates sounded the alarm on Friday last week after Ssekitoleko failed to show up for his COVID-19 test and was also not found in his hotel room.

According to reports, Ssekitoleko arrived in Japan before his qualification for the Games was confirmed.

On July 5, he was informed by the International Weightlifting Federation that he had not obtained the quota for the Olympic Games.

Ssekitoleko had fled his hotel room, leaving behind a note saying he did not want to return to his own country.

He was found in the town of Yokkaichi, 170 km east of his host town in western Japan and was returned to Uganda on Wednesday.

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