Next year’s African Cup of Nations finals is in doubt after the hosts, Morocco, reportedly withdrew because of fears over the Ebola outbreak.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) last week received a letter from the Moroccan government last week asking for the tournament to be called off or postponed until 2016.

However, the website quoted a source from the country’s Ministry of Sport who claimed that Morocco has now officially withdrawn in order to “preserve the safety of our citizens”.

“Since CAF rejected all our requests and suggestions then we are forced to withdraw from hosting Afcon 2015 with immediate effect to preserve the safety of our citizens and for that we are prepared to take any consequences that comes with our actions,” said the source.

The Moroccan sports minister Mohamed Ouzzine was quoted earlier in the week saying they were still considering which course of action to take should CAF refuse their request to postpone the finals.

“We’ve arranged to meet up and discuss the technical options connected to this demand for a postponement,” he said.

“This demand is motivated essentially by the last report from the World Health Organisation, which contained alarming numbers at the extent and spread of the virus.

“All that means we are facing a historic responsibility. We understand CAF’s difficulty, but that said, never in history has there been such an Ebola epidemic.”

The 2013 hosts South Africa are now tipped to take over after reports that the country’s Football Association was already in negotiations with CAF. Sudan also offered to be considered as an alternative host country.

South Africa was initially scheduled to host the tournament in 2017 following the withdrawal of Libya as hosts due to ongoing fighting there.