Nigeria chose not to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Youth Olympic Games here last night in response to an "unusual, demoralising and stigmatised" reaction to the Ebola outbreak currently affecting the nation, it has been claimed.
The West African country is one of four affected by the Ebola outbreak, which has caused more than 1,000 deaths in recent weeks across a region also spanning Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
There was some confusion over whether Nigeria would follow the trail set by Sierra Leone and Liberia and withdraw from the Games before the decision was confirmed yesterday by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.
But one Nigerian wrestler had been banned from competing by the IOC - along with a judoka and a swimmer from Guinea - on the grounds that the combat-based nature of the sport would boost the risk of the virus being unintentionally transferred.
It has emerged that, although they withdrew yesterday, the team did not leave until today and had made a conscious decision not to attend the Closing Ceremony.
Ayo Otepola, Nigeria's Consul General in Shanghai, who travelled here to coordinate his country's "orderly withdrawal" from the Games, claimed China's approach was much harsher than how Scotland had tackled it at the recent Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
It is alleged Nigerian athletes were isolated and barred from training due to concerns over Ebola.
''The athletes complained of total stigmatisation, they were quarantined and this action demoralised them," Otempola told the News Agency of Nigeria.
''They were also required to submit themselves twice every day for medical examination.
"This is unusual because they had been examined initially at the port of entry and on arrival at the Games Village."
Speaking when announcing the withdrawal, President Bach expressed his sadness at an "extremely difficult situation".
He added: "We have been informed that the team from Nigeria want to go home.
"They have to follow these decisions by the Government and obviously the Nigerian Government has decided in this way and again we feel very sad for the athletes.
"For them it must be extremely, extremely difficult.
"They are living in the Olympic Village right now, feeling the spirit of the YOG and then having to leave.
"This is very, very difficult and we feel for them.
"But we will not forget them.
"They will be invited to come back and we will show them that we stand at their side but we respect the decision of the Government in these circumstances."
Nigeria had sent a team of 11 athletes and seven officials led by Dr Abdulkadir Mu'azu, director of the Sports Medicine Department of the National Sports Commission.
In addition to Sierra Leone and Liberia, the other country affected by the epidemic is Guinea, and the two remaining members of their team are still expected to compete here later in the Games.
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