Samoa’s decision to deny young athletes entry over Ebola Virus fears defended

The 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games main venue at the Faleata Sports Complex – a day to the official opening

BY Lance Polu

APIA, SAMOA: THURSDAY 03 SEPTEMBER 2015: The Samoa  Governments decision to deny entry to young athletes from Sierra Leone to compete in the Commonwealth Youth Games due to start in Apia in a days time, has been defended by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

The Games Federation meeting in Auckland yesterday, defended the decision saying it is Samoa’s sovereign right to decline Sierra Leone athletes entry to the country because of fears over the Ebola virus.

The Samoan government rejected the Sierra Leone team’s attempts to enter the country for the Commonwealth Youth Games, which begin in Apia this weekend.

The Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, David Grevemberg, says they asked Samoa to consider all options but ultimately the government is free to make it’s own judgements.

“As the Prime Minister has rightfully said, he and his government, and of course their advisors and of course the advice they have sought, need to take into account what’s best for the country, in terms of safety and security. We’re very sorry for the athletes not being able to attend but this is something we’re going to need to address with small states and island states as we move forward, but the Federation needs to respect the sovereignty of the state and what a government feels is in the best interests of their people,” David Grevemberg told Radio New Zealand.

Ghana proposed to the Games Federation to issue sanctions against Samoa for denying Sierra Leone entry, at yesterday’s General Assembly in Auckland but was rejected by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Samoa is not without real experience of mass viral infections as 22 percent of the population was wiped out in 1918 by the Spanish influenza virus that left huge gaps in the generations and traditional knowledge base for many families. It remains one of the highest epidemic mortality rate per head of population according to the World Health Organisation.

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