Ebola outbreak: 3 athletes told they can’t compete at Youth Olympics

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 IOC and local organizers said Friday.

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 Saturday in the eastern city of Nanjing.

The International Olympic Committee and Chinese organizers issued a joint statement saying they had worked out a safety policy in conjunction with the World Health Organization 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.

‘Young athletes may have suffered twice’

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.

 

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.