Lithuania misses first world

  • 2006-09-13
  • From wire reports

STUCK: The women's basketball team (pictured earlier this year at 'Star days') may not play in the championships at all.

VILNIUS - The Lithuanian women's basketball team missed the first game of the much anticipated FIBA World Championships on Sept. 12, after being refused entry to Brazil since they lacked Yellow Fever vaccination certificates. The team was scheduled to play Australia in Group B. A loss of 20-0 has been already entered for Lithuania. Due to a recent Yellow Fever breakout in neighboring French Guiana, Brazil is refusing entry to travellers without vaccination certificates.

According to the Lietuvos Rytas daily, the predicament began with a cancelled Air France flight from Martinique to Belem, Brazil. The team was due to travel from Belem to Sao Paulo, but Air France cancelled the flight, redirecting the Lithuanians to Caribbean Airlines, which landed in French Guiana on Sept. 9.

After learning of Brazil's new Health Ministry rules, the team discovered that it was impossible to get vaccinated over the weekend, Lietuvos Rytas reported. Even if the team managed to schedule a vaccination appointment, a 10-day quarantine is required.
Before landing in French Guiana, the basketball players were not warned about the yellow fever outbreak and that they should not leave the plane. The team deboarded the plane and got stuck in a quarantine zone, since Brazil was refusing entry to those coming from French Guiana without vaccination papers.

Team coach Ramunas Saluga told Lithuanian national radio that they would try to negotiate with Brazilian authorities on further possibilities to play in the championships. He added that the women were now resting in the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, where the team was deported to after arriving in Brazil.
Representatives of the International Basketball Federation and the French Federation were informed about the situation but, so far, have been unable to help.
The women's FIBA championship will continue until Sept. 23.