Friday October 17th, 2014

South Africa is reluctant to serve as a replacement host for the upcoming African Cup of Nations, the country's department of sport and recreation said Friday.

Morocco, the host of the tournament, said Thursday it wanted it postponed due to fears of the spread of Ebola with thousands of fans expected to travel to the host country from around Africa.

The African cup is scheduled to begin Jan. 17. Morocco hasn't ruled out dropping out as host completely, and the Confederation of African Football has asked South Africa, Ghana and other countries to be prepared to host if needed.

South Africa's sport ministry said it doesn't want to serve as replacement host due to the limited preparation time and the costs that would be incurred as a result. The country also shares Morocco's concerns about the potential spread of Ebola.

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"There are just too many factors to consider for South Africa," the department of sport and recreation said in a statement on Friday.

"The tournament ... may also pose a challenge on how we can grapple with the Ebola challenge engulfing the continent at the moment."

More than 4,500 people have died as a result of Ebola in recent months, with most fatalities concentrated in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The CAF has canceled all matches in those countries.

Concerns over the disease have reached the U.S. after three people in Dallas contracted the disease in recent weeks, with one fatality. The NFL sent a letter to teams about the disease Monday, and the Cowboys and Giants spoke to players regarding Ebola ahead of their game on Sunday in Texas. 

South Africa has experience hosting major soccer events, having hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010.

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Nigeria is the reigning champion of the African Cup, having won the biannual tournament in 2013. This year's Cup is scheduled to run from Jan. 17 through Feb. 8.

Ben Estes

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