SHARON: ALL FUTURE MACCABIAH GAMES IN JERUSALEM
MERIDOR: MESSAGE TO THE WORLD - THE JEWISH WORLD IS ONE
The Australian delegation to the Maccabiah at the dedication of a Jewish National Fund forest near Ben Shemen in memory of the 4 athletes who died in the bridge collapse at the 15th Maccabiah in July 1997
(photo: Joe Malcolm)
Nine days of sports, fellowship and Jewish solidarity drew to a close on Monday, July 23, as the 16th Maccabiah concluded with a colorful ceremony held at Jerusalem's Sultan's Pool. The ceremony was graced by the presence of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Minister of Science, Culture and Sports Matan Vilnai, Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, and other dignitaries including Jewish Agency chairman Sallai Meridor.
According to revised statistics released by the Maccabiah Organizing Committee 5,281 Athletes and Delegates participated in the 16th Maccabiah, of these 3,981 from abroad.
Prime Minister Sharon, speaking at the concluding ceremony proclaimed: "Hereafter all Maccabiah Games will take place in Jerusalem." He thanked the participants for coming and added "You will take the Maccabiah flame with you." He expressed hopes that they will kindle the flame by coming to Israel. "We need you," he said.
Jewish Agency Major Supporter of Maccabiah
The Agency also participated in a parallel Junior Maccabiah (for 12 to 16 year olds), which included sightseeing and cultural evenings and discussions. The Jewish agency also participated in an awards ceremony for Maccabi leaders from throughout the world, and in a memorial ceremony for the victims of the 1994 Buenos Aires Jewish community Center bombing.
The Maccabi World Union is a constituent member of the World Zionist Organization. Prior to the ceremony, WZO and Jewish Agency Chairman, Sallai Meridor told Maccabi leaders, " By holding the 16th Maccabiah, you have sent a message to the capitals of the world, saying 'that the Jewish People is one!'" The Jewish Agency's Aliyah Department presented each Maccabiah participant with a kit describing Aliyah possibilities in Israel.
Science, Culture and Sports Minister Vilnai, told the athletes said, "Not everyone who competed can win a medal, but you can all say "We were here'." Echoing his remarks, Zwebner, chairman of the Maccabi Organizing Committee, said the "real winners were the thousands of Jewish athletes who participated and the Maccabi Federations." Ehud Olmert evoked the Maccabi spirit, the spirit of the Jewish People, which is the spirit of Victory." One of the most moving moments was, when a young boy in Maccabi Youth Movement uniform, arrived by helicopter. He carried a gas lamp, lit from the flames of the Giant Maccabi Torch, which had just extinguished in Teddy Stadium. The boy presented the flame to Mr. Uzi Zwebner. A color guard of Maccabi Youth Movement Cadets presented the Maccabiah banner to Zvebner for safe keeping, and the event concluded with the singing of Hatikvah and with a colorful "Happening of the Future" which featured a performance of drummers, dancers and gymnasts in futuresque costumes, as fireworks illuminated the night sky of Jerusalem.
16th Maccabiah Statistics According to new, revised statistics issued by the Organizing Committee of the 16th Maccabiah, 5,281 sportsmen and women and delegates participated in the 16th Maccabiah. Of these, 3,981 came from abroad. This number is considerably higher than opening estimates.
Among the largest delegations from abroad were the United States(387), Canada(300) Argentina (160) Brazil (115), France (138) Great Britain(160) Mexico Russia (110), Argentina(67) and Germany (54) were among the largest delegations. Smaller delegations included those of Belarus, the Republic of China (who participated for the first time), Azerbaijan, Holland and Switzerland. Israel fielded the largest delegation: 1,300 sportsmen and women and delegates.