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President Higgins sends best wishes to Ireland's Paralympics team

The 29 athletes representing Ireland at the Paralympics in Japan will compete in nine sports.

The Irish Paralympics team en route to Japan.
The Irish Paralympics team en route to Japan.
Image: Aer Lingus/Twitter

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has sent his best wishes to Ireland’s 29 Paralympians as they travel to Japan for the games. 

The athletes, who will compete across nine sports, have departed for the beginning of the huge event on 24 August. 

In a letter, addressed to the team’s Chef de Mission Neasa Russell, President Higgins spoke of the gratitude of the country to the team.

“There can be no greater accolade for a sportsperson than to be chosen to represent their country at the biggest international sports competitions,” he said. 

“Participation in the Paralympics is, for all athletes, a true tribute to their talent, skills and determination. 

“There is no doubt that these qualities will also ensure that our Paralympians will transcend the unprecedented circumstances under which this year’s Games are being held, and will make us proud as they uphold the spirit of sportsmanship which defines Team Ireland,” he said. 

President Higgins wished those travelling “safe travels as they prepare to represent our nation”.

“To all our athletes who have been preparing for these events for so long, and to all who have coached and supported them, I send the gratitude of the people of Ireland and our sincere good wishes for a successful and enjoyable Paralympic Games,” he concluded. 

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, and Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers TD, also sent their best wishes to the team.

Minister Martin said the coronavirus crisis has done little to dampen the athletes tenacious commitment to the competition.

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“Team Ireland is sending a fantastically talented team to the Paralympic Games and I am sure they will do themselves, their families, their communities and the whole country proud over the next few weeks.

“The pandemic has disrupted their preparations but they have shown wonderful determination to overcome those difficulties and now that they are bound for Tokyo I want every member of the team to know that they travel with the support and best wishes of everybody in Ireland. Enjoy the Games.”

Chambers said Ireland was with the team “all the way”.

“When Tokyo hosted the second ever Paralympic Games back in 1964, there were no Irish athletes in attendance, the only time that has ever happened.

“Happily, this time we are returning to Tokyo in force with a great team that I am sure will represent us with distinction and honour. Above all else, I would like to see everybody on the team enjoying the experience,” he said. 

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