The African Cup of Nations will be hosted by Morocco and is scheduled to kick off on the 17th of January 2015. However, as the deadly Ebola virus continues to spread in the West African region fears have mounted that the cup could result in a further spread of the virus. Several worst case scenario models predict more than half a million infections by January when the cup is scheduled to take place.
Earlier this year the Ivory Coast attempted to enforce its travel ban by refusing to host a qualifying match with Sierra Leone. The country had a sudden change of heart after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) informed them that refusing to host the qualifier would render them expelled from the 2015 event.
Fears that football fans or participants may spread Ebola are not unfounded as the event lasts for nearly the exact number of days as the upper limit for incubation. With this in mind, it is plausible that a visitor could enter Morocco while healthy and become symptomatic before the event is over. A stadium full of cheering fans would be a very likely place for transmission of the virus.
The Government of Morocco has at this stage not provided any indication that they intend to cancel or postpone the football spectacular but have indicated that a “safety first” approach would be taken implying that if the virus continues to spread they may be forced to postpone or take significant precautions for visitors entering from affected countries.
Moroccan newspapers reported in August that FIFA had assured the country that the infection risks as well as efforts to contain the outbreak would take first priority, with the Football events coming in second. FIFA also indicated that the ultimate decision would need to be made by the Confederation of African Football.