NANJING - Nigeria has decided to pull out of the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games on Saturday after the other two West African countries Sierra Leone and Liberia had already withdrawn from the Games a day earlier due to the spread of deadly virus Ebola in the region.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach confirmed the withdrawal of Nigeria from the Games on Saturday.
"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," said Bach.
"We also have been informed that the team of Nigeria wants to go home. Obviously this decision was taken today, because yesterday in the conversation with the Nigerian team we've been told that they will simply follow the instruction by their government.
"Obviously the Nigerian government has decided to send them 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."
IOC and the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games Organizing Committee issued joint communique on Friday regarding to the athletes from the Ebola-affected region in West Africa.
The communique says: "The organizing 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.
"Based on health authority guidelines it has been decided that athletes from affected areas will not compete in combat sports. (2 athletes)
"Additionally, based on the inability to completely exclude the risk of potential infection it was also decided that no athletes from the region would compete in the pool. (1 athlete)"
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-affected) 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 organizing 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 results of these discussions which we had together with the organizers and the WHO was that all the NOCs are welcome to these Games. There is no ban or sanction. We left it then to the relevant NOCs to make their own decisions.
"With regard to the athletes being present we had to take some precautionary measures, which affected three athletes. In accordance with all the medical advice we got it would not be advisable to have athletes from affected countries competing in combat sports or swimming.
"Those athletes could participate in all the other events of the YOG. They could live in the Village, follow the Cultural Education Program and if my information is correct, you will see one of those athletes carrying the flag of his nation tonight into the stadium," Bach added.