By Nick Butler at the Centara Convention Centre in Bangkok

ANOCA chief Lassana Palenfo believes a sporting collaboration is required to tackle the Ebola crisis ©Getty ImagesSport must work to educate young people and communities about the dangers of Ebola, Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) President Lassana Palenfo has warned.

This marked a first contribution to a debate which formed a major part of the first day of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly here today.

Since the outbreak began in December, there have been over 13,000 reported cases of the viral disease in Africa, including more than 6,000 in Liberia, nearly 5,000 in Sierra Leone and 1,700 in Guinea.

Other nations, including Nigeria and Mali, have also had smaller numbers of cases, while others still, such as Palenfo's own Ivory Coast, have taken precautionary measures in a bid to avoid an outbreak.

Delegations from all nations affected are attending today's Assembly but, with the general problem showing no sign of slowing, finding ways to deal with the issue is imperative.

Speaking as part of an ANOCA report to the Assembly this morning, Palenfo admitted the continental body's capability to take real action was limited, but insisted they can make a difference through educational promotion and other rhetoric.

The World Olympians Association, led by President Joël Bouzou and Patron Prince Albert II Monaco, is one sporting body already acting to tackle Ebola ©WOAThe World Olympians Association, led by President Joël Bouzou and Patron Prince Albert II Monaco, is one sporting body already acting to tackle Ebola ©WOA

"We discussed this issue in our Executive Committee and agreed that there was need for ANOCA to play a role in the fight against the disease," he told representatives from 203 National Olympic Committees.

"While ANOCA does not have the capacity to apply financial resources to meet the appeals of the international community, we can at least contribute by using the power of sport to educate youths and communities at large on how they may avoid the spread of the disease.

"Much is already being done to help the countries that have been affected the most.

"However, ANOCA would like to contribute to the awareness programme through NOCs in countries that do not have a problem for now as there are indications that the very free movement of people is fueling its spread.

"We hope that all friends in the Olympic Movement will join us in this endeavour."

The Ebola outbreak has affected sport in all of these countries, with Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia all unable to take part in the Summer Youth Olympic Games as a result of the epidemic, although two Guinean athletes did compete.

But some measures have already been undertaken by sporting bodies in a bid to address the problem. 

Prince Albert II of Monaco, an IOC member and World Olympians Association (WOA) Patron, has  issued a video plea to Olympians around the world to the support the WOA's #TargetEbola campaign.

This aims to raise funds to help stop the spread of the disease in West Africa.

The Sierra Leone National Olympic Committee (SLNOC) has also supported a British Joint Ebola Task Force in setting up an Ebola treatment facility last month in Freetown.

IOC chief Thomas Bach, who was present here today, met SLNOC Dr Patrick Coker  to discuss efforts to fight against Ebola, praising his quick response to the problem.

ANOC chief Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah also praised all representatives from the affected countries for attending the meeting, and reiterated the seriousness and importance of the issue.

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