Olympics: Weightlifter who vanished for days in Tokyo is released from custody

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GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 05:  Julius Ssekitoleko of Uganda competes during the Weightlifting Men's 56kg Final on day one of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on April 5, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Julius Ssekitoleko competes during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games – but he never made it to the Olympic. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

A Ugandan weightlifter who vanished in Japan after fleeing ahead of the Tokyo Olympics is reported to have been released by police in Uganda after six days without charge.

Julius Ssekitoleko, 20, made headlines across the world last week after he left his luggage and disappeared from the Ugandan team's training base in Osaka.

He had been scheduled to fly home after failing to qualify for the Olympic Games, although it is yet to be ascertained how he was able to fly to Japan in the first place.

As well as leaving luggage in his hotel room, he also left a note that said he didn't want to return home and instead intended to stay in Japan and work.

Ssekitoleko was eventually found a few days later in Yokkaichi, around 100 miles from Uganda's pre-Olympic base, and returned to Uganda.

According to NTV Uganda, Ssekitoleko was released on Wednesday, six days after being detained following his return.

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"Up to today, no charge had been brought against him," the TV station said on Twitter.

According to reports, Ssekitoleko's family had petitioned for his release.

"It is heartbreaking to see my son sharing a cell with criminals when he is innocent," his mother Juliet Nalwadda told the AFP news agency.

"His rights are being violated by police detaining him indefinitely. I appeal to the government, and sportsmen and women, to secure his release. 

"This is an innocent young man. He didn't want to hurt anyone. Why is he being treated like a criminal?"

A spokesperson for Uganda's criminal investigations department had said it was trying to fathom how the weightlifter was able to enter Japan ahead of the Tokyo Games and that he was being held on suspicions of "fraud".

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