MARRAKECH: The government of host country Morocco. has urged postponement of next year’s African Nations Cup because of the ebola epidemic.

The finals are due to be held between January 17 and February 8.

The request to delay the event has been lodged with organisers Confederation of African Football.

More than 4,000 people have died in the epidemic which broke out in west Africa at the start of the year and whose spread shows no sign of abating.

The Morocco health ministry made the plea in the wake of their decision “to avoid events which involve those countries affected by the Ebola virus.”

CAF said it will discuss the request at the next meeting of its executive committee on 2 November and president Issa Hayatou will meet Moroccan officials the next day.

More than 4,000 people have died in the Ebola epidemic that broke out in west Africa at the start of the year.

In a ‘holding’ statement, CAF said: “CAF has registered the request and wishes to state that there are no changes of the schedules of its competitions and events.

“It must be noted that since the first edition in 1957, the Africa Cup of Nations has never witnessed a deferral or a change in schedule.

“CAF has also been cautious since the commencement of the final round qualifiers of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations on the health risks posed by the ebola virus and has consistently applied precautionary principles, taking into account the recommendations of the World Health Organization and various medical experts.”

In July, Seychelles cancelled and forfeited their Nations Cup qualifier home match against Sierra Leone because of fears over the Ebola virus.

CAF has also placed an indefinite ban on Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea – the countries worst affected by the ebola outbreak – from hosting matches in their own countries.

Sierra Leone and Guinea, the two nations involved in Nations Cup qualifying, have since played their ‘home’ matches in DR Congo and Morocco respectively.

For the upcoming double-headers, played this weekend and next Wednesday, Sierra Leone will play Cameroon twice in Yaounde while Guinea will host Ghana in Casablanca before travelling to Tamale for the away fixture.