Eighty countries – one heart

March 22, 2017 by David Weiner
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Maccabi World Union has unveiled their slogan for the 20th edition of the Maccabiah Games to be held later this year.

The announcement was made at their World Congress, which was attended by the senior members of Maccabi Australia and its Maccabiah team management earlier this month.

Australia’s Head of Delegation has declared that the 2017 event is on track to be “the best organised Games” – an event which will feature over 10,000 participants for the first time.

Head of the Australian delegation Tom York with Amir Peled – Maccabiah Chairman

3408 open athletes, 1747 masters, 2384 juniors and 81 Paralympians will flock to Israel for the prestigious event.

That equates to some 23 hotels, 600 000 meals and 1.2 million water bottles!

The contingent from Down Under currently stands at 589, with 490 athletes – making Australia the third biggest delegation from the diaspora attending the Games in Israel, with USA and Argentina leading the way.

York said: “That’s a mighty effort considering that we have a relatively small Jewish population.

“This is my fourth time that I have attended the March congress and I can go on record to say that these are the best organised Games.

“The organising committee has more funding and have attracted some very good professionals to be involved.”

“And I am very pleased to say that judging by our meetings with the organising committee and heads of various departments, our own preparation is well advanced.”

There will be 2,100 medals up for grabs across 80 sports played from venues in eight host cities, with Jerusalem making a considerable investment in providing top class sporting facilities, particularly for the flagship football tournament.

“The mayor of Jerusalem is determined to make Jerusalem the premier sport city,” York added. “To achieve this, he has built a 12,000-seater stadium and many new venues including three football pitches which will be used for the football tournament.”

The Games’ Organising Committee have also taken steps to improve the running of all the sports, including hiring international referees and having senior Maccabiah organising personnel at every event to model Olympic protocol.

It was also an important reconnaissance trip for Australia’s delegation, which included inspecting the facilities for the country’s first ever pre-camp in Haifa.

“Maccabi Haifa is a very strong club in Israeli sport, with a lot of very good facilities. Also, the municipality owns a lot of venues,” York explained. “I can assure everyone that for pre-camp purposes everyone will be happy with the standard of the venues.”

Australia’s officials were also updated on plans for the 20th year Bridge Commemoration to take place on 4 July, two days before the Opening Ceremony, which he described as “more athlete friendly, including some of the best Israeli singers and dancers”. To mark the 20th Maccabiah, the ceremony will pay particular attention to the history of the Games, dating back to 1932.

As for the new slogan, York said that it was well received because of the “unity it represented for the worldwide Maccabi community”.

“The diaspora and Israel is united by one big heart with a close relationship, with no better example than our participation in this huge event.”

Now, athletes will eagerly await the official draw, which will be held on May 4.

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