Abidjan — The Ivory Coast government decided late Monday to allow Sierra Leone's team to enter the country, giving the go-ahead for an African Cup qualifier after fears over Ebola put the game and Ivory Coast's place in the tournament in doubt.
The Ivorian government announced the decision late into the night after a meeting of its National Security Council.
Ivory Coast has restrictions on travel from countries affected by the deadly virus like Sierra Leone and initially said its squad would not be allowed in. Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria and has now appeared in a fifth West African country, Senegal, in the worst outbreak ever recorded.
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The Confederation of African Football has temporarily moved games out of Guinea and Sierra Leone but insisted Saturday's match should go ahead as planned in the Ivorian capital Abidjan or Ivory Coast would forfeit its place in the African Cup of Nations.
The Ivorian government said in a statement that was read on national TV that it was allowing Sierra Leone's team in because none of the players coming for the game have been in their Ebola-hit home country in the last 21 days. To help ease fears, Sierra Leone picked a squad of foreign-based players and will also allow officials traveling for the game to be screened by Ivorian authorities.
Ebola is spread through contact with bodily fluids like blood, sweat and saliva but health experts say banning travel to or from affected countries will not help curb the outbreak.
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