4 Sep 2015

Samoa PM says athletes safety from Ebola a priority

8:34 am on 4 September 2015
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi Photo: RNZ / Alex Perrottet

Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, says the country is putting safety first in it's decision to reject visas for athletes from Sierra Leone over Ebola virus fears.

The Commonwealth Games Federation rejected a proposal by Ghana to issue sanctions against Samoa, for denying Sierra Leone entry, at this weeks General Assembly in Auckland.

Tuila'epa says it's the responsibility of his government to put safety first for the up to 2,000 athletes participating in the fifth Commonwealth Youth games.

He says he supports the decision because his country was the worst affected by the Spanish flu, which had killed 25 percent of Samoa's population back in 1918.

Tuilaepa says he's also mindful of the trust the competing athletes has put in his country for their safety and protection.

The Federation's Chief Executive, David Grevemberg, told Matt Chatterton Samoa's Government has the right to make it's own decisions.

The Commonwealth Youth Games are officially being opened on Saturday night in Apia.