Nigeria quits China Youth Olympics over Ebola outbreak

Beijing: Nigeria today pulled out of the Youth Olympics in China`s?Nanjing city, a day after two other west African nations withdrew from the Games over the worst outbreak of deadly Ebola virus in decades in Africa.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach confirmed the withdrawal of Nigeria from the Games.

"Two NOCs (Sierra Leone and Liberia) decided together with their government to not come here. We have to respect the decision of the government in such a difficult moment for their country," state-run news agency Xinhua quoted Bach as saying.

"We also have been informed that the team of Nigeria wants to go home. We feel sad for the athletes as it will be extremely difficult for them. They already felt the excitement of living in the Village and now they have to leave - that`s a very difficult task."

The death toll from the worst epidemic of the disease in four decades has climbed to 1,145 in the afflicted countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, according to the WHO.

IOC and the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee issued joint communique yesterday regarding the athletes from the Ebola-affected region in west Africa.

The communique said: "The organising committee has made it clear that all delegations are welcome to the Games and each country is free to take their own decision on attendance."

"Those from the region will be subject to regular temperature and physical assessment throughout the period."

The decision, which affects three athletes whose names and nationalities were not identified, was made "to ensure the safety of all those participating", the IOC and Chinese organisers said.

Bach expressed his sympathy and sadness for the withdrawal of three NOCs, but he also defended IOC`s decisions in barring athletes from Ebola-hit countries in west Africa from competing in some sports in the Games.

"First of all, I think we all feel really sad. We feel sad for the people in the four (Ebola-hit) countries. We feel sad for the athletes who may be affected by the Ebola disease and by its implications," said Bach.

"Here in Nanjing the task of the organising committee and the IOC was to find the right balance between the respect for the athletes who want to compete and the safety of the athletes being presents as well as the people of Nanjing and China.

"We have to take all necessary measures to prevent the spreading of the Ebola disease here in the Youth Olympic Village and beyond," added Bach.

The Youth Olympic Games begin today in Nanjing, China`s former capital, and run until August 28 and will feature more than 3,700 competitors aged 15 to 18.

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