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Sporting officials hope that UEFA's decision to lift the ban on home soccer games in Israel will pave the way for the return of other sports to the country as well.

Volleyball and handball were among the first sports to be hit by the security situation and these branches of sport have not hosted games in the country for over two years. The Israel Volleyball Federation sent a letter yesterday to the European Volleyball Federation demanding that it lift its ban on Israel hosting international games.

"The European Volleyball Association meets in Belgrade in June and it will have no choice but to lift the ban," said Kobi Solomon, the IVF's chief executive.

National handball coach Shlomo Hoffman added his voice for an end to the ban. "After [the return of] basketball and soccer, there is no reason not to play [handball] in Israel," Hoffman said.

An end to the ban would enable Israel's volleyball and basketball clubs to return to play in European competition, which they abandoned because of the financial losses incured by being unable to host games and the high cost of playing home games overseas.

The Israel Olympic Committee had hoped that athletes from overseas would train in Israel ahead of the Athens Games because of the similar climatic conditions in Israel and Greece. However, because of the security situation, foreign athletes stayed away. The committee now hopes that some athletes will take part in the Israel Athletics Championship in July, a few weeks before the Olympics.