The Indian officialdom in Tokyo was left flummoxed on Thursday when Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko, who was sent back to his country four days after he fled during pre-Olympics training, was seen wearing an India track jacket at the airport.
The 20-year-old, who was found in central Japan, was seen clad in a red track top with India written on the back while making his way through the Narita airport in a report aired by NTV channel here. It looked similar to the kit that Indian athletes wore during the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Rajeev Mehta made it clear that the apparel was not the country's official kit for the Tokyo Games, which are set to open on Friday.
"This colour does not belong to NOC India in Tokyo Olympics," Mehta told PTI. Uganda's chef de mission Aisha Nassanga also had no idea how Ssekitoleko got an India track jacket. "I have no idea about this. He came to train in Japan on June 18 maybe someone gave it to him. Maybe it could be an old one," Nassanga said. Ssekitoleko, who competes in the men's 56 kg category, was part of a nine-member Ugandan team that was training in Izumisano, Osaka prefecture.
Officials and teammates raised an alarm on Friday last week after Ssekitoleko failed to show up for his COVID-19 test and was not found in his hotel room either. As per reports, Ssekitoleko arrived in Japan before his qualification for the Games had been confirmed. On July 5, he was informed by the International Weightlifting Federation that he had not got the quota for the Olympics Ssekitoleko had fled his hotel room, leaving behind a note saying he didn't want to return to his own country.
He was found in the Yokkaichi city, 170 km east of his host town in western Japan and was sent back to Uganda on Wednesday. -- PTI