SHETLAND’S Island Games team has shrunk to less than half its normal size for this year’s competition in Bermuda, which starts in 100 days on 13 July.
With the cost of travelling and staying in the popular tourist destination more than double the amount of previous games, Team Shetland this year will feature just 40 athletes competing in eight sports compared to around 90 attending the Isle of Wight in 2011.
Shetland Islands Games Association (SIGA) chairman Andrew Inkster said: “The main challenge of the 2013 games for all competing islands, is the cost of air travel and local accommodation in Bermuda, which has a busy high-end tourist market.
“There are also a limited number of seats on the only direct flight from the UK to Bermuda, so some of the team are travelling via Europe and the United States.
“The costs of taking part at this year’s games are estimated to be around £2,000 per person, including travel and accommodation.”
Bermuda has been one of the most successful teams in the 28 year history of the NatWest Island Games.
Inkster said the Bermuda team had come to Europe for the last ten years and it was only right for the European teams to cross the Atlantic as their guests.
“I know that many of the competing islands will have smaller teams this year but we are looking forward to a successful and memorable games again,” he said.
Shetland will be competing in athletics, cycling, golf, sailing, clay shooting, squash, swimming and triathlon.
The full team will be announced later this spring but among those expected to compete for Shetland will be some who achieved gold medal success in 2011, including Andrea Strachan (swimming), Amy Harper (swimming), Christine Mclean (cycling) and Emma Leask (athletics).
More than 3,000 competitors took part in the 2011 Island Games held in the Isle of Wight, compared to 1,600 in Shetland in 2005, the low number being blamed at the time on the cost of travel.
SIGA secretary Bob Kerr said: “We all knew that Bermuda was going to be an expensive games and we are very pleased we have a team as big as we have, because a lot of our athletes are being funded by themselves or their club.”
Bermuda lost out as hosts to the Isle of Wight in 2011 by a few votes, but when they put themselves forward in 2008 for this year’s games there were no competitors.
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