Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 14th 2014 Contents A69
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CAPE TOWN---It started when
the small Indian Ocean island of
Seychelles refused entry to Sierra
Leone s football squad, fearing
that the deadly Ebola virus would
arrive from West Africa along with
The decision by Seychelles health
authorities two weeks ago gave its
team no choice but to forfeit the
game against Sierra Leone and
withdraw from qualifying for the
Africa Cup of Nations, the conti-
nent's main football competition.
"We cannot let down our guard,"
Seychelles health commissioner Dr
Jude Gedeon said after Sierra
Leone's players were prevented from
leaving Kenya for the flight to the
Seychelles. Some had already
boarded their plane before being
informed they wouldn't be allowed
to make the flight.
The Confederation of African
Football was powerless to act.
Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of
the four soccer-mad West African
countries affected by the worst
Ebola outbreak ever recorded, have
now stopped all football in their
countries. Health officials say there
is a lethal risk in allowing people
to gather in large groups.
Togo said it would not travel to
Guinea, another Ebola-affected
country, for a game at the start of
the final round of Africa Cup qual-
ifying in the first week of Septem-
ber. That forced CAF to relocate
The disease has no licensed vac-
cine, has killed over 1,000 people
in West Africa at the World Health
Organization's latest count and has
spread through three countries and
into a fourth, Nigeria. Controlling
it takes priority over sport.
But if other nations follow the
lead of Seychelles and Togo, as
many as 18 games in the final qual-
ifying competition starting next
month could be affected. The qual-
ifiers determine which teams get
the 16 spots in the tournament,
which is held every two years.
The 2015 Africa Cup will be held
in Morocco in January and Febru-
ary.The CAF is facing a logistical
nightmare over the fixtures involv-
ing Guinea, Sierra Leone and
African champion Nigeria in Sep-
tember, October and November.
Ebola fears infiltrate African sports
Liberia is not part of the qualifiers.
Those games might have to be moved
to other sites or canceled.
"We continue to monitor the situation
of the Ebola outbreak," CAF said in a
statement on Tuesday, promising to clar-
ify in the coming days its revised plans
for the qualifiers.
CAF said it was in contact with WHO
and authorities in the countries affected.
The CAF confirmed that Sierra Leone,
where over 300 people have died in the
outbreak, can't host games.
Sierra Leone's government banned all
football there until further notice. Sierra
Leone wants to play its home' matches
against Ivory Coast, Cameroon and
Congo in Accra, Ghana, CAF said.
Ghana hasn't yet confirmed if it'll
allow that to happen. Some countries
don't want to allow people from Ebola-
affected countries to enter.
Sierra Leone Football Association
spokesman Abu Bakarr Kamara told the
AP that it would get WHO emergency
health certificates for home-based players
to show they had not contracted Ebola.
Unlike Sierra Leone, Guinea, the sus-
pected source of the Ebola outbreak,
says it still wants to play host to match-
es.Guinea is the only one of the four
countries not to have declared a public
health emergency despite the deaths of
373 people there---the most of all the
countries. Opponents say they don't
want to travel to Guinea.
Guinea's football federation said on
Tuesday that it had been instructed by
CAF to move its home game against
Togo, although it said it hasn't chosen
The move by the Seychelles govern-
ment last month to block Sierra Leone's
squad set a possible precedent for coun-
tries to refuse to host the Sierra Leone
and Guinea teams. The bans could spread
to Nigeria if Ebola spreads rapidly there.
The nine countries set to host teams
from Ebola-hit areas haven't yet said
they'll refuse to let players and officials
into their country. If they banned players
from the four nations, it would throw
the Africa Cup into complete chaos.
The CAF doesn't want to wait, and
says it will announce later this week
details of a plan to keep the qualifiers
FREETOWN---Sierra Leone s
National Olympic Committee says
its delegation for the upcoming
youth games was asked not to travel
to China because of an outbreak of
The president of the committee,
Patrick Coker, said the Chinese
Embassy in Sierra Leone said the del-
egation "might find themselves in a
troubled and awkward situation once
they get to China's port of entry."
More than 1,000 people have died
in an Ebola outbreak in West Africa
that has touched Sierra Leone,
Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria. The out-
break has forced qualifiers for the
Africa Cup of Nations to be moved
from the affected countries.
The Youth Olympics begin Satur-
day in Nanjing, China. The 12-day
event features more than 3,000 ath-
letes from around the world, from
the ages of 15 to 18. (AP)
Ebola forces Sierra Leone
to skip Youth Olympics
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