Peled: Ev­ery­thing is in place for the ‘bestever’ Mac­cabiah

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BY SI­MON GRIVER

SPORT WITH just over two months un­til the open­ing cer­e­mony in Jerusalem, Mac­cabiah chair­man Amir Peled has told the JC that the 2017 Games will be the big­gest and best-ever Jewish Olympics.

“We are ex­pect­ing more than 10,000 par­tic­i­pants from around 85 coun­tries to com­pete in 41 dif­fer­ent sports,” com­mented Peled. “That’s much big­ger than the 2013 Games when we had about 8,000 com­peti­tors.” Ath­letes will com­pete in four cat­e­gories: Ju­niors, Open, Mas­ters and Par­a­lympics.

Mac­cabi USA will send the largest over­seas del­e­ga­tion of 1,200. The Cana­dian, Aus­tralian and Ar­gen­tinian squads will fea­ture in the re­gion of 650 com­peti­tors, with Team Mac­cabi GB rep­re­sented by 375 ath­letes. South Korea, the Philip­pines, Cam­bo­dia, Sin­ga­pore, Malta, Cay­man Is­lands, Ba­hamas, Trinidad and Haiti will com­pete for the first time, as well as the firstever of­fi­cial team from Morocco.

Peled com­mented: “We have al­ways billed our­selves as the world’s third largest sport­ing event in terms of com­peti­tors, after the Olympics and the Univer­si­ade (Univer­sity Games), but I think we are now chal­leng­ing the Univer­si­ade for sec­ond place.”

With the open­ing cer­e­mony at Jerusalem’s 32,000-seat Teddy Sta­dium on July 4 and the clos­ing cer­e­mony at La­trun on July 18, the theme of the Games will be the 50th an­niver­sary of the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Jerusalem.

Peled said: “As usual, the Games will be held through­out the coun­try with the swim­ming races at the Wingate In­sti­tute and a num­ber of sports fea­tured at Haifa’s new Sammy Ofer sta­dium. Thirty per cent of events will be in Jerusalem, in­clud­ing ice hockey, which has been moved from the Up­per Galilee to the new 11,600-seat Payis Arena in Jerusalem.

The Payis Arena’s lo­ca­tion, ad­ja­cent to Teddy Sta­dium, en­ables it to en­hance the open­ing cer­e­mony. “Rather than be­ing left hang­ing around in the sum­mer heat out­side the sta­dium, par­tic­i­pants will gather at a re­cep­tion inside the air-con­di­tioned arena and march straight from there into Teddy Sta­dium,” Peled ex­plained.

This sum­mer’s Games will fea­ture 150 par­tic­i­pants who have pre­vi­ously taken part at the Olympics and Par­a­lympics. The big­gest stars will be USA swim­mers An­thony Ervin, who won two gold medals in Rio, and vet­eran Olympic medal­lists Ja­son Lezak and Lenny Krayzel­burg. “We’re hold­ing talks with some other stars and I’ll hope they’ll be some sur­prises,” said Peled. De­spite the strength of the shekel, Is­raeli tourism is at a record high so far this year and the Mac­cabiah or­gan­is­ers are hop­ing that tens of thou­sands of fam­ily mem­bers of par­tic­i­pants will also visit Is­rael for the world’s big­gest Jewish event.

We’re ex­pect­ing 10,000 ath­letes from 85 coun­tries in 41 sports’

Amir Peled

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