Montenegro denies African runners for fear of Ebola

Millennium bridge in Podgorica, Montenegro
Millennium bridge in Podgorica, Montenegro
Millennium bridge in Podgorica, Montenegro

The small Balkan country of Montenegro has refused visas to 35 athletes from African countries before the Podgorica Marathon in the country’s capital, though none of those athletes come from countries affected by Ebola.

Race organizer Milan Madzgalj told local media that the country has refused to issue visas over the fear of Ebola, the deadly virus which has rapidly spread through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, all countries in sub-Saharan West Africa. Nearly all the athletes refused entry are Ethiopian or Kenyan, both countries over 7,000 km from Liberia’s capital of Monrovia, a hotbed for the virus. The distance from Monrovia to Montenegro is about 6,000 km.

Eight have died of the disease in Nigeria, a Central African country, though the World Health Organization has declared that outbreak over. No athletes from Nigeria were planning to race.

Athletes from Spain, Germany and the United States do seem to be clear to race the event, all countries which have had deaths from the virus.

The race is expected to host about 370 athletes for the event.

As of Oct. 22, the World Health Organization says 4,877 have died of the Ebola virus in West Africa, a rapidly worsening crisis.