The U.S. national team has canceled a trip to Senegal after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The Americans were scheduled to interrupt their World Cup of Basketball preparations to travel to the African continent for the first time, conducting a joint clinic on Aug. 27 with the Senegal national team. They planned to tour Senegal’s Goree Island and attend a reception hosted by the Senegalese government.
But USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Friday the Americans had no choice but to call off the trip because of the risk involved with Senegal’s location near countries where the outbreak has been deadly.
“We feel really badly about it, disappointed about it because I think our whole group – players, coaches, staff – were thinking it was going to be a terrific experience top to bottom,” Colangelo said.
More than 1,000 people have died in West Africa in the last six months after the outbreak quickly spread to major cities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ebola causes a high fever, bleeding and vomiting. The virus is transmitted by contact with bodily fluids like blood, sweat, urine, diarrhea and vomit.
It has no cure or licensed treatment and has been fatal in at least 50 percent of the cases, health experts say.
“When they declare a public emergency like they did, we didn’t have any other choice, disappointed as we are that we’re not going to go,” Colangelo said.
Colangelo said the Americans had consulted with officials from the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control. Though they don’t suspect any cases in Senegal, it is just north of those countries along Africa’s west coast, which he said made it an important location that served as a “gateway to West Africa.”
Instead, the Americans will remain in Spain and perhaps add an extra practice before the World Cup, which begins Aug. 30 in that country. Colangelo said USA Basketball would look for a future opportunity to travel to Africa.
“We’re committed to fostering the game of basketball everywhere in the world, in particular Africa and Senegal,” he said.