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Ebola bars three from Youth Olympics

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Ebola bars three from Youth Olympics

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NANJING, China (AP) – Three teenage athletes from the Ebola-affected region of Africa will not be allowed to compete at the Youth Olympics in China because of the risk of possible infection, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and local organisers said today.
All athletes and officials from the four West African nations affected by the deadly virus will be “subject to regular temperature and physical assessment” for the duration of the games, which open today in the eastern city of Nanjing.
The IOC and Chinese organisers issued a joint statement saying they had worked out a safety policy in conjunction with the World Health Organisation to prevent the possible spread of the virus that has killed more than 1 000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
“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.
However, athletes from the affected region will be prohibited from competing in combat sports due to “health authority guidelines” and aquatic events “based on the inability to completely exclude the risk of potential infection”, the statement said.
The measures mean that three African athletes – two in combat sports and one in aquatics – won’t be able to compete. The statement did not identify the athletes or countries involved.
However, according to the competitors’ list on the official games website, a 16-year-old female Nigerian wrestler, and a 16-year-old female judo athlete and a 16-year-old male swimmer from Guinea won’t compete.
The three who aren’t allowed to compete will be invited back to Nanjing later to take part in another sporting competition, the IOC statement said.
“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,” it said.
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, competing in 28 sports.
The IOC told The Associated Press earlier today that no athletes from Sierra Leone and Liberia would be competing at the games after teams from those countries decided not to travel to China. Guinea will be represented.
The position of Nigeria was unclear, however, after the latest country to be affected by Ebola reportedly withdrew its athletes over their treatment in China.