‘Too early’ for Morocco to decide how to respond if Ebola-motivated Nations Cup demand denied

'We are facing a historic responsibility' says Morocco sports minister Mohammed Ouzzine, as the country aims to postpone hosting the Africa Cup of Nations due to the Ebola epidemic.

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Africa Cup of Nations hosts Morocco say they have not made a definite decision on how to respond should organisers CAF refuse their Ebola-motivated request to postpone the continental showcase.

Last week Morocco called on the biennial event starting in January to be delayed in a bid to prevent the spread of Ebola, which has claimed the lives of over 4,000 people.

CAF (Confederation of African Football) responded by insisting the 16-nation, three-week competition would go ahead as scheduled.

“It’s too early to speak of a definitive decision,” Morocco sports minister Mohammed Ouzzine replied when asked how Morocco would act if CAF maintained that stance.

“This question will be handled by those responsible at CAF.

“We’ve arranged to meet up and discuss the technical options connected to this demand for a postponement.”

Ouzzine reiterated the thinking behind their dramatic request

“This demand is motivated essentially by the last report from the World Health Organisation, which contained alarming numbers at the extent and spread of the virus.

“All that means we (Morocco) are facing a historic responsibility.”

Ouzzine said he had not been surprised at CAF’s initial rejection.

“We understand CAF’s difficulty, but that said, never in history has there been such an Ebola epidemic.”

He said there was a difference between the Nations Cup and the Club World Cup, due to be staged in Morocco in December.

“We are speaking of a large number of supporters (at the Nations Cup), 100,000, 200,000, 300,000 or even more.

“We are not equipped for that and I can’t see other countries being able to ensure checks and controls for such a large number either.”

CAF, in a statement on Saturday, emphasised that “since the first edition of the Africa Cup in 1975, this cup has never been delayed or cancelled”.

CAF’s executive committee are due to discuss Morocco’s request at a meeting in Algiers on November 2.

The Nations Cup is scheduled to be held in the North African country from January 17 to February 8.

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