Hosting of mass gathering sporting events during the 2013-2016 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa: experience from three African countries

Int J Infect Dis. 2016 Jun;47:38-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2016.06.011. Epub 2016 Jun 15.


  1. Mass gatherings at sporting events attract millions of international and national host-country travellers, who may put themselves at risk of acquiring local endemic infectious diseases.

  2. The 2013–2016 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa that resulted in over 28 637 cases and 11 315 deaths required that countries holding these events put in place public health programmes for enhanced surveillance and specific response plans for any suspected cases of EVD.

  3. Three major sports events were held in Africa during the EVD outbreak, attended by athletes from numerous African countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the three countries most affected by EVD: the African Youth Games (Botswana), Africa Cup of Nations (Equatorial Guinea), and All-Africa Games (Republic of Congo).

  4. A large range of infectious diseases other than EVD were considered with respect to the differential diagnosis of acute febrile illnesses and for the provision of laboratory diagnostics and treatment options.

  5. The experience from these three mass gathering events during the Ebola epidemic illustrates that these events can be held safely provided that countries put measures in place for enhanced surveillance and response systems for communicable diseases.

Keywords: Ebola virus; Mass gathering; Sporting event; West Africa.