International drama as Ugandan Olympic weightlifter breaks security bubble

Julius Ssekitoleko may not have thought this one all the way through.

The 20-year-old weightlifter from Uganda, who made international headlines on Friday by going missing from pre-Olympic training camp in Japan, made a break for it because he wants to stay in Japan and make a new life for himself there, according to a Kyodo News report.

Ssekitoleko did not show up for a scheduled coronavirus test — a particular problem because the nine-member Ugandan team had a positive test upon arriving in Tokyo, and another after going across the country to training camp outside Osaka — by which time it had been nearly 12 hours since anyone had last seen him.

Reportedly, Ssekitoleko bought “a Shinkansen bullet train ticket to Nagoya,” where the prefectural capital of Aichi is home to Japan’s second-largest Ugandan community… a community of “about 150.”

It would be hard enough for the most muscular dude the average person has seen close up, as a Black guy in Japan, to escape notice. This is not a fella who is going to blend in when the situation is normal, let alone when the world is looking for him because he busted the Olympic security bubble and any last thought that the Olympics could proceed safely.

Maybe Ssekitoleko has connections in the Ugandan community in Nagoya who can help him out. There has to be more to this plan than just bolting by bullet train to the nearest group of dozens of expats – give the guy some credit, he’s a 20-year-old Olympian, that takes some personal drive.

The problem is, whatever Ssekitoleko has as the rest of his plan — including presumably assuming a new identity, because everyone will be like, “Ssekitoleko? Aren’t you the guy who ran off from the Ugandan Olympic camp?” — he got this whole thing rolling by upsetting and embarrassing Japanese security authorities.

There’s a great movie in this either way. Best of luck to Ssekitoleko in finding the happiness he seeks in Japan. He’s gonna need it.

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