Sports authorities of the South African Republic followed the steps of Morocco and also decided against hosting next year’s Africa Cup of Nations biennial football championship, citing concerns over the outbreak of deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.
“The possibility of holding the Africa Cup of Nations is excluded,” South African Sports Minister Fikile April Mbalula said.
South Africa already hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 in place of Libya, which was torn by the war at that time. “Our budget is incapable of holding the championship in 2015,” Mbalula said. “This is totally impossible.”
Mbalula also said that on top of everything, his country was “facing the task of fighting Ebola.” “We are not immune to it,” the South African sports minister added.
Morocco earlier claimed that it made the decision to cancel hosting the 16-nation football tournament, scheduled to run between January 17 and February 8 next year, as it wanted to avoid holding an event involving countries where Ebola cases were registered, as well as to prevent the expansion of the deadly virus.
Issa Hayatou, the president of the African football’s governing body CAF, arrived in the South Africa Republic last Thursday in order to find a solution to the emerged problem concerning the hosting country.
The CAF earlier stated that it had no plans of postponing or changing the championship’s date of January 17-February 8.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported last week that the Ebola epidemic was spreading geographically and the death toll exceeded the figure of 4,500, while the number of probable and suspected cases exceeded neared 9,000.