Citing safety, Latvia withdraws from youth sports games in Turkey

Considering the emergency situation and unstable security situation in Turkey, the executive committee of the Latvian Olympic Committee (LOK) recalls Latvia's participation in the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival, LOK spokesman Martins Malmeisters said Friday.

The European Youth Olympic Winter Festival will be held in Turkey's city of Erzurum on February 12-18.

The European Olympic Committees (EOC) Executive Board on Thursday decided not to cancel the planned event in Erzurum despite the recent terrorism attacks in Turkey. More than 15 countries have already announced on their full or partial withdrawal from the festival.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry has said in its warning that the necessity to travel to Turkey has to be carefully revised. After the attempted coup last July, there is still emergency situation in force in Turkey. Also there is high terrorism threat level in this country.

LOK surveyed parents of the young athletes included in the team and asked for opinion of sports federartions. Even though opinions differed, the majority supported withdrawal from the event.

The Latvian team for the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival included more than 50 young athletes in nine disciplines - figure skating, shorttrack, trampolining, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, biathlone, curling and hockey.

According to Latvian Ambassador to Turkey Peteris Karlis Elferts, other countries who decided not to participate in the event include Hungary, Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Andorra, Israel, Croatia, Azerbaijan and Greece. At the same time, France, Norway, Germany, the UK, the Czech Republic and Finland decided on partial participation in the festival.

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