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