Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:07 pm
Nigeria and Sierra Leone on Thursday withdrew from the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing, China, due to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
According to “Inside Games,” an online news provider, Sierra Leone was the first country to pull out following pressure from the Chinese authorities.
A few hours later they were joined by Nigeria, who withdrew her team in protest to the way the country’s athletes were stigmatised by the other athletes and officials.
It disclosed that Gbenga Elegbeleye, the Director-General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), said they were discriminated against because of the news of Ebola in the country.
“Nigerian athletes were quarantined, isolated and barred from training alongside athletes from other countries since they arrived at the competition.
“And this happened over the news of Ebola virus in Nigeria, following this discrimination, we have resolved to pull out from the Games,” it said.
Nigeria’s contingent of 12 athletes and five officials left the country on Aug. 11 for China to participate in three sports.
The country was due to compete in athletics, beach volleyball and wrestling.
The publication added that more than 1,000 people have died in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has touched Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria.
However, It was still unclear whether Guinea and Liberia would also be forced to withdraw.
The publication said that Patrick Coker, the President of NOC of Sierra Leone, claimed that the Chinese Embassy in Freetown had warned them about the Ebola situation.
“Because of the prevailing Ebola crisis in the West Africa, the NOC of Sierra Leone was advised by the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone.
“And the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the delegation for Nanjing should return,” it quoted Coker as saying.
Sierra Leone’s delegation of 10 athletes and officials had set-off on Aug.11 for Nanjing where the Games are due to open on Saturday Aug.16, when they were ordered to return home while still in transit.
They are now back in Freetown.
Among those who would miss out on the chance of competing at the Games were the boys’ volleyball team who had qualified to represent Africa at the Games.
Sierra Leone had also been due to compete in swimming and weightlifting.
The outbreak has also forced qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations to be moved from the affected countries.