Ugandan Weightlifter who Went Missing in Tokyo Olympics found help from Concerned Group through Airfunding

Days before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko disappeared from the Olympic training camp. His disappearance sent the Uganda and Japanese governments on their toes and together, set out to search for him. He left only a clear note before fleeing: that he wanted to find work in Japan and requested to return his belongings to his family. 

Four days later, he was found and sent back to his hometown immediately. The Ugandan government promised him continuous rehabilitation to support his career, but soon after, he was detained for more than 48 hours. This action was criticized by the Union of Uganda Sports Federations and Association saying, “he deserves sympathy, not harsh treatment”. His lawyer also told the media that Julius wasn’t the first athlete to disappear in a foreign land, seeking work due to the little support they get from the country they represent. And who wouldn’t? When his pregnant wife and was immediately evicted from their rented home after he fled to Japan. His only source of hope and income was his talent: his craft – his sport.

Leaving jail wearing his medals, Julius Ssekitoleko captured the hearts and sympathy of people across the globe. People started to support him on Twitter using the hashtag #StandWithSsekitoleko and lawyers rushed in to offer him help for free. Walter Mwesigye, a Ugandan TV producer and writer organized a drive to help Julius on his financial and legal battles. He has put up a project in Airfunding called “Stand Up for Julius Ssekitoleko” which raised $2,883 from people across the globe.

It seems that many citizens of Uganda resonated with his story, finding themselves in the same boat as someone who wishes to leave the doorstep of home and find themselves in a better place in a foreign land.

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