For the first time in Israel – the European Blind Goalball Championship

The European championship in goalball for the blind will be held for the first time in Israel starting today, Sunday, August 1 2004. As of Friday (July 30) athletic delegations began arriving in Israel from Europe – Italy, Holland, Norway, Belgium, Croatia and Ukraine. Goalball is an Olympic sport included in the Paralympic Games, and the Israeli team has even won in this sport in the past, in the 1990 world championship and the 1991 European championship. This year, for the first time, the International Blind Sports Federation has decided to hold the European championship games in Israel.

Minister of Tourism Gideon Ezra welcomed the decision to hold the games in Israel, and will attend the finals to distribute the awards to the winning teams. Minister Ezra noted that the Ministry of Tourism considers that holding the games in Israel is of the greatest significance and will encourage disabled people to visit Israel as tourists. Representatives of the Ministry of Tourism welcomed the sporting delegations at the airport and presented them with a token gift. The ministry is also organizing a special tour of Jerusalem for the participants, visiting Christian holy sites and the Western Wall tunnels. The championship games will be held at the national sports stadium for the blind in the Jerusalem Institute for the Blind, and the Beit Halochem stadium in Tel Aviv. The championships are being organized jointly by the Israel Disabled Sports Federation, the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization and the Jerusalem Institute for the Blind. The games are open to the general public free of charge.