Ugandan Track Athletes Fail To Qualify For Olympics After National Stadium Taken Over By Japanese Religious Group

The Ugandan Athletic Federation says at least five athletes missed out on qualifying for the Olympics after discovering Japanese religious group Happy Science was using the national stadium in Kampala.

Athletes instead competed at a local university track, which the UAF claims has an inferior running surface and lacks proper timing equipment and is the reason no competitors established qualifying times.

Ugandan religious leaders call Happy Science a cult. Its founder, Ryuho Okawa, claims to be a medium to the spirits of Muhammad, Christ, Buddha, and Confucius.

Given the increasing violence in Uganda, deadly landslides, and proposals to make homosexuality punishable by death, it might seem Uganda has more to worry about than its Olympic team. At the same time, a focus on international athletic competition tends to draw a nation away from its troubles, so this is unfortunate. A small team of Ugandans will have the opportunity to register qualifying times next week at the African Athletic Championships in Benin, but for those who aren't making the trip, their Olympic dreams are over.