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Ebola prevents Salone from participating at Youth Olympics

By Sahr Morris Jnr.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last Friday said due to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the two nations will not compete in this year’s youth Olympic Games which started on Saturday (August 16) in Nanjing, China.

IOC’s head of media relations, Emmanuelle Moreau, confirmed to Xinhua news agency that the delegations of Sierra Leone and Liberia will not be traveling to Nanjing. Earlier last week, the National Olympic Committee of Sierra Leone (NOC-SL) withdrew the country’s delegation following the advice of the Chinese Embassy in Freetown.

The IOC release states: “Athletes from the Ebola-affected region of Africa will be excluded from combat sports and aquatic events at the Youth Olympic Games…”

The IOC and local organisers in China issued a joint statement Friday saying they had worked out a safety policy in conjunction with the World Health Organization.

“We have been reassured by the health authorities that there have been no suspected cases and that the risk of infection is extremely unlikely,” the statement said. “Together we have developed a policy which balances the health needs of all, with respect for the rights of the young athletes from the region.”

Sierra Leone’s National Olympic Committee said earlier last week it has been asked not to send a delegation to China. The IOC said all delegations are welcome, although athletes from the affected region will be subject to regular temperature and physical assessments.

More than 1,000 people have died in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has touched Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria. The outbreak has forced qualifiers for football’s Africa Cup of Nations to be moved from the affected countries.

The 12-day Youth Olympics are expected to attract more than 3,000 athletes from around the world, from the ages of 15 to 18.

The exclusions from combat sports and aquatic events are only expected to affect three athletes.

“We regret that due to this issue some young athletes may have suffered twice, both from the anguish caused by the outbreak in their home countries and by not being able to compete in the Youth Olympic Games,” the IOC said.

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