Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Mandate to return Sierra Leone team

Jamaica's Usain Bolt will be in action in the 4x100m relay
Jamaica's Usain Bolt will be in action in the 4x100m relay

The head of Sierra Leone's team has said he has a mandate to return the team home on Tuesday but that discussions are under way in light of the killer Ebola virus outbreak.

Some members of the Commonwealth Games team do not want to return to the country, where a public health emergency has been declared.

Yesterday it emerged that Sierra Leone cyclist Moses Sesay, 32, was admitted to a Glasgow hospital last week after feeling unwell and doctors tested him for various conditions, including Ebola - which is blamed for 729 deaths in an outbreak in four west African countries.

But Sesay was given the all clear and released from hospital in time to compete in the men's individual time trial at the Games on Thursday.

Meanwhile Sierra Leone cyclist Mohamed Tholley, who was thought to have disappeared, is no longer missing.

Unisa Deen Kargbo, the team's chef de mission, said: "Athletes have come to me and said they don't want to return because of the Ebola situation.

"There have been discussions with back home to see what the final decision will be on that.

"I have a mandate to return the athletes on 5 August and that's what I'm working towards now."

Asked if the athletes could stay on in the UK, he said: "The UK government will have to decide if that's an option, but I don't know."

He said that the situation was a bit up in the air.

At a press briefing this morning Glasgow 2014 communications director Jackie Brock-Doyle was asked if there would be a possibility for them to stay on at the athletes' village.

She said: ''The athletes' village closes on Wednesday and is being decommissioned on Thursday, so it will become a building site within a matter of hours.

''We had a meeting with the chef de mission this morning and all his plan to take his entire team back to Sierra Leone on their flight on Tuesday still stands.''

That meeting with Mr Kargbo also cleared up confusion about the whereabouts of Tholley, who had been expected to compete in the time trial event in Glasgow on Thursday but failed to turn up.

She said: ''The chef de mission knows where the cyclist is.

''The cyclist is not missing. He is aware of where the athlete is and the police are not involved. Police Scotland issued a statement last night saying they have not been asked to find him.''

At the games today England's Nicola Adams won gold in the women's flyweight boxing, repelling the brave challenge of Belfast flyweight Michaela Walsh.

In table tennis husband and wife team Joanna and Paul Drinkhall won gold in the all-English mixed doubles table tennis final as they beat Liam Pitchford and Tin-Tin Ho 3-2.

England's Natalie Blake took a silver medal in the women's lightweight para-sport powerlifting competition.

Later Usain Bolt is appearing in a final of the men's athletics, after leading Jamaica to victory in the qualifying heats at Hampden last night.

Diver Tom Daley will be back in action in the men's 10m final after coming agonisingly close to Commonwealth Games gold in the synchronised event last night after a near-perfect final dive which left Daley and teammate James Denny settling for silver.

And Australia's Sally Pearson booked her place in today's 100m hurdles final after blitzing the heats last night, vindicating her controversial decision to show up late to a Commonwealth Games camp.

Today will also see action in boxing, badminton, hockey, netball, squash and table tennis.

High drama on the Glasgow Green hockey pitch yesterday saw England pip New Zealand on penalties to reach today's women's final.

Meanwhile David Zolkwer, creative director of tomorrow night's closing ceremony, has spoken about the event, which will feature the likes of Kylie Minogue, Lulu and Deacon Blue, performing alongside more than 2,000 volunteers.

He said: ''Tomorrow night's show is called 'All Back To Ours' and the title reflects the kind of personal, spontaneous, general 'we don't want this moment to end' feel to the show,'' he said.

''We are holding the party at Hampden, but it is really like we've inviting the world into our front room.

''In many ways, I think the last 11 days of sport was the actual party. This is the bit where someone says 'we don't want this to end, let's all go back to our house and carry on'.'

A Glasgow 2014 spokeswoman said: "Glasgow 2014 adheres to patient confidentiality in all medical matters and cannot discuss individual cases.

"Following reports to media from members of the Sierra Leone team, we can confirm two athletes from Sierra Leone were tested for Ebola as part of a series of tests undertaken last week when they presented as unwell. Both tested negative for Ebola."

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