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Ebola outbreak: Athletes banned from combat and pool sports at Youth Olympics

Teenage athletes from the Ebola-hit areas have been told they cannot compete in some sports at the Youth Olympics in China, which starts tomorrow

Teenage athletes from the Ebola-hit regions of West Africa have been banned from partaking in some sports at the Youth Olympics, which starts this weekend in China.

The Games, which sees 3,500 15 to 18-year-olds compete over 12 days in sports ranging from tennis to shooting and boxing to golf, has been sanctioned with the restrictions as a precaution.

In a statement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that athletes from the region will not be allowed to compete in combat sports or events in the pool.

The measure means that two athletes cannot compete in the former as well as one athlete in the latter.

Of those that will attend from the affected regions, regular “temperature and physical assessments” will also be given, the IOC said, after the committee came to the decision in conjunction with organisers in the host city of Nanjing, under the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO).


“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 IOC said.

Ebola, a virulent haemorrhagic fever which kills 90 per cent of its victims, has swept through the western African regions of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since it was first identified in March.

Nigeria has also reported three deaths, out of the 1,069 that have been confirmed by the WHO, though this number is said to have been “vastly” underestimated, the United Nations health agency has said.

The IOC continued: “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 and Organizing Committee will therefore offer to each of the National Olympic Committees affected, if they wish, that their national flag will be brought into the stadium at the opening ceremony and will be hoisted at the venues.

“The athletes who have not been able to participate will also receive in the near future an invitation from the IOC and the organizing committee to come to Nanjing to take part in a sporting competition and to experience the welcoming atmosphere and spirit of the city and Jiangsu province.”

The second Summer Youth Olympics, which was first held in Singapore in 2010, is due to start tomorrow and finish on 28 August in Nanjing, China.