Jerusalem too perilous for Tralee games team
For the first time in 14 years there will be no Tralee team at the International Children's Games after the team's management decided to pull out of the upcoming games in Jerusalem due to safety fears.
Tensions have been high in the Middle Eastern city since US President Donald Trump announced in December that he would move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, an enormously controversial move that recognises the city as the Israeli capital.
Given the precarious security situation in Jerusalem, the Tralee ICG Committee has decided that the team will not take part in this year's games, which are due to take place in Jerusalem in late July and early August.
It will be the first time since 2005 that the Tralee team - which includes athletes from across Kerry - will not take part in the annual games, which are essentially a mini Olympics for youth athletes.
Tralee's absence also means there will be no Irish presence whatsoever at the games as the Kerry side is the only team from Ireland which participates in the long running tournament.
Last year an 18-strong team from Tralee and Kerry took part in the games at Kaunas in Lithuania.
Tralee ICG Secretary Mike Culloty said the decision to sit out this year's games had been a difficult one.
"The decision was taken at last week's committee meeting and was strongly influenced by safety concerns for children, coaches and adults who would be travelling with the team," he said.
"Tralee ICG regrets that it cannot afford the opportunity to represent our town and county to the young athletes who have already indicated their intention to attend trials for these Games," Mr Culloty said.
"It is the first time since 2005 that Tralee will not have a team and there is a sadness all round associated with what was a very hard decision to make in the interests of the athletes and coaches," he said.
"As always Tralee ICG extends its appreciation to everyone who has supported our participation over the past 13 years and to all the wonderful athletes, their parents and team coaches who have worked with the various squad members in the different sport disciplines in that time," Mr Culloty said.
Tralee ICG's Management Committee said that the team's possible participation at the games in future years will be examined again in 2019.