Jerusalem set to host International Children’s Games

The international sports community is heading to Israel again this summer.

Beginning on July 30, Jerusalem will host 1,500 boys and girls through five days of friendly athletic competition for the International Children’s Games (ICG). The Olympics-like event arrives just a week after Israel was the stage for the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship.

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“This is a great opportunity to present the State of Israel and Jerusalem to the world in a positive context that relates to sports. It’s an expression of confidence in our many investments in sports during the recent years, aimed to bring international events to the capital of Israel and develop the city’s economy,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

The young athletes, 50 percent boys and 50 percent girls, will compete across nine sports: Basketball, soccer, street ball, volleyball, fencing, judo, athletics, tennis and swimming.

The games, toting the motto, “play fair, win a friend,” are intended to provide life lessons for the adolescent through sports. The ages of the participants range from 12-15. Israel has 150 children competing in the games.

The ICG will start on July 30 with an opening ceremony at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem. The festivities will include a performance by Eden Elena from Israel’s X-factor and other artists. It will be free and open to the public. The athletic events will continue through August 3.

For Israel, the ICG is the latest in a series of international sporting events to come to the country. Netanya’s hosting of the World Lacrosse Championships in July marked the first time a country other than the United States, Canada, Australia or England hosted the tournament. The European Soccer Championship (Under-21) has also been played on Israeli soil recently.

Jerusalem in particular is enjoying a thriving sports scene. The city was host to the Maccabiah games, a marathon, Gran-Fondo New York (a cycling marathon) and an ultra-marathon.

“Seventy years of Israel and 50 years of ICG are found together in Jerusalem. It’s a unique capital, full of rich culture and we are here to celebrate the sporting event of young athletes in the Olympic spirit for the first time ever in the city,” said Torsten Rasch, ICG president.

“ICG is so proud, happy and grateful to to experience this intercultural highlight in Jerusalem 2018.”