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Tokyo Olympics: Ugandan athlete who tried to flee 'tears up' as he is sent home

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AP Photo

Olympic Games

A Ugandan athlete who fled last week during pre-Olympics training in western Japan has been returned to Uganda. Julius Ssekitoleko was seen in Tokyo on Wednesday evening at the Narita International Airport.

The 20-year-old weightlifter fled his hotel in Izumisano in the Osaka prefecture Friday, leaving behind a note saying he didn't want to return to his country.

Ssekitoleko was visiting Yokkaichi about 40 kilometers to the south of Nagoya when he was found by a police officer on Tuesday and taken into protective custody.

Japanese broadcaster, NTV, on Wednesday showed footage of the athlete walking around the airport and reports that he has now flown back to Uganda.

According to the police, the athlete responded to questioning with occasional tears.

Ssekitoleko did not meet Olympic standards in the latest international rankings released after he arrived in Japan and was due to return home.

Athletes at the Tokyo games are only allowed to go to a limited number of locations such as their venues and accommodation, and must avoid contact with the public due to the COVID-19 counter-measures put in place by Olympic organizers.

The disappearance of the Ugandan ahead of the opening of the Olympics raised questions about the safety of the global sporting event, and the challenge of controlling Covid as Japan struggles to contain another wave of infections.