On Friday, Japanese authorities were looking for a missing Ugandan weightlifter, who went missing just a week before the Tokyo Olympics, which have sparked public outrage over their coronavirus risks.
Julius Ssekitoleko, 20, was attending a training camp near Osaka when he failed to appear for a Covid-19 test and was not in his hotel room.
His disappearance comes amid intense scrutiny in Japan over the risk of virus infections spreading from the postponed 2020 Olympics, as cases in the country have risen. On Friday, the government said it had asked organizers to investigate reports of Games participants breaking virus rules, a day after Olympic chief Thomas Bach insisted the regulations “are working, and they are enforced”.
Only a handful of positive cases were reported among thousands of Games-related arrivals in July.
However, ahead of the opening ceremony on July 23, Tokyo is in a virus emergency, with the city experiencing its highest infection rates since January.
Organizers have been forced to bar spectators from all events in Tokyo and most other venues, while athletes, officials, and staff are subjected to stringent anti-virus measures such as regular testing and movement restrictions.
In the last two days, ten positive cases, including one athlete, have emerged among Games participants. Additional cases have been discovered among teams arriving for training camps, with Japanese media reporting Friday that a member of Nigeria’s delegation was hospitalized after testing positive at the airport.
Ssekitoleko went missing in Izumisano after two members of Uganda’s delegation tested positive in Japan, including a coach who was isolated at the airport.
“The city is making every effort to locate the individual. We have reported the incident to the police “According to a statement issued by city officials. Several teams have already arrived in Japan, some at training camps scattered across the country, and others at the Olympic Village, where national flags have been hung on the buildings housing delegations.
However, Australian basketball player Liz Cambage announced her withdrawal due to the mental health risks of remaining in the “terrifying” bubble environment.
“There is no family. There are no friends. There are no fans. Outside of my team, there is no support system. It’s truly terrifying for me “In a statement, the four-time WNBA All-Star said
Sarah Davies, a British weightlifter, described living in the bubble as “prison.” Olympic officials are also in Japan, including Bach, who visited Hiroshima on Friday to mark the start of a “Olympic truce” calling for a worldwide cease-fire during the Games.
More than 70,000 people signed a petition opposing his visit, accusing Bach of using Hiroshima and Nagasaki “to promote the Olympics… even though it is being forced through despite opposition.”
Polls show that the majority of Japanese people want the Games to be postponed or cancelled, though some recent polls show that opposition is softening. The former fencer from Germany laid a wreath at a memorial to victims of the Hiroshima atomic bombing and appeared shaken after visiting a museum documenting the attack and its aftermath.
Bach described the trip as “humbling,” adding that the Games would “be a beacon of hope for a better and more peaceful future.”
Bach has met with local officials in recent days, and Japanese media reported Friday that he had asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to consider allowing spectators into Olympic venues if the virus situation improves. Despite the emergency, non-Olympic sporting events in Tokyo can currently accommodate up to 5,000 spectators.
Officials argue that the Games are different because multiple events are taking place at the same time, posing a greater risk of crowding and infection spreading.