Fear of Ebola Alters Youth Olympic Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday it was prohibiting young athletes from the Ebola-affected region of West Africa from participating in certain events at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

Athletes from West Africa, where authorities are battling an outbreak of the Ebola virus, will not be allowed to compete in combat sports or in the swimming pool. It’s impossible to rule out the risk of potential infection, the IOC and the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organizing Committee said in a joint statement.

The rules will prevent a total of three athletes from the region from competing in those events, the statement said.

Athletes from the affected region competing in other sports will undergo regular temperature checks and physical assessments throughout the games, which begin Saturday, the two committees 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,” the IOC and organizers said.

The death toll from the world's worst outbreak of Ebola stood Wednesday at 1,069, the majority of them in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the World Health Organization said.

The Youth Olympics in China, running Aug. 16-28, are the second summer edition of an event first hosted in 2010 to shore up support for the Olympics and win over a new generation of fans and athletes.

The event is also seen as a useful testing ground for new events and/or sports that can gradually be integrated into the Olympic Games.

Just under 700 athletes will take part in the competitions.

VOA News / Aug. 16, 2014 08:38 KST