USA Basketball had plans to go to Senegal later this month before the FIBA World Cup, but the current Ebola outbreak has put a stop to those plans.
The team was supposed to go to Senegal on August 27 to hold a clinic for kids in conjunction with Senegal’s national basketball team. However, the recent outbreak of the highly-infectious Ebola virus in West Africa has caused USA Basketball to cancel those plans as a precautionary measure.
“We really had an issue with canceling because we were so committed to the program down there and wanted to participate,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo on Friday. “(But) you can’t take any chances. We certainly didn’t want to put anyone at risk.”
Although Senegal has not had any reported cases of Ebola, its surrounding countries are reporting numerous Ebola cases, making it just too risky for the players to visit the country.
“Although the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] does not yet suspect any [Ebola] cases in Senegal, the country’s position as a neighboring country to Guinea and Dakar’s role as a gateway to West Africa heightened our concern,” said Colangelo.
“We remain committed to fostering basketball worldwide and in Africa and Senegal in particular and we are committed to look at further opportunities in the future to work with and support the Senegalese national team.”
The US national basketball team will be opening the 2014 FIBA World Cup by playing Finland in Bilbao, Spain on August 30. Only 24 teams compete in the tournament, and it runs through September 14. Its winner will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, making it an important tournament to follow.