08/15/2014 04:25 am ET Updated Oct 15, 2014

IOC Bans Athletes From Competing In Some Events Over Ebola Fears


Aug 15 (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned athletes from west African countries affected by the deadly Ebola virus from competing in some events at the Youth Olympics, starting in China this weekend.

The IOC released a statement on Friday saying that while there were no suspected cases, organizers had decided to bar three athletes from competing in combat sports and events in the pool as a precaution.

"We have been reassured by the health authorities that there have been no suspected cases and that the risk of infection is extremely unlikely," the statement read.

"Together we have developed a policy which balances the health needs of all, with respect for the rights of the young athletes from the region."

The IOC said the decision to ban some athletes from competing had been made in conjunction with the organizing committee from Nanjing under the guidance of the World Health Organization.

The IOC said all countries were welcome to attend the Games, which will run from Aug. 16-28, but athletes from the affected region would be subject to regular physical tests.

"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 said.

The world's worst outbreak of Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people with another 2,000 suspected cases, mostly in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. (Reporting by Julian Linden in Singapore; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)