The city of Tel Aviv vowed on Friday to open an investigation following the
death of a 29-year-old runner during the city’s shortened marathon earlier in
the day, which took place despite unseasonably hot weather.
came shortly after Maj. Michael Michaelovich, a resident of the Menucha moshav
in the South, collapsed and died during the race.
Michaelovich was an
officer serving in the IDF’s Oketz canine unit, where he was a trusted commander
and instructor. Friends and family members on Saturday described him as an avid
runner who was in good physical shape.
Only one month before his death,
his wife gave birth to their first child, a baby boy.
buried on Saturday night in his hometown, Beersheba.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron
Huldai said that the municipality would not only hold their own investigation,
but would also cooperate with any inquiry launched into the decision to hold the
Huldai said “the city of Tel Aviv expresses its deep regret over
the death of one of the runners in the city’s marathon,” adding that the city
followed instructions from the Health Ministry and Sourasky Medical Center in
deciding to hold only the half marathon, so the event would end by 9:30
Huldai said that the runner who died was taking part in the half
marathon, began running at 6 a.m. and was treated by medical staff at 8 a.m. At
that time, the weather was only somewhat hot, according to the weather services,
“Having said that, it’s important to emphasize that ahead of
the marathon discussions were held with professionals and the most senior
medical officials and we adhered to their recommendations,” Huldai said. He
asserted that the half marathon was run “under weather conditions that all
assessments ruled were reasonable.”
Army Radio also quoted Huldai as
saying that in light of US President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to Israel
this week, it was not possible to postpone the day’s events.
MK Dov Henin
(Hadash) said Friday that the tragedy could have been averted, saying “a
cross-city marathon is a beautiful sporting event, but one that shouldn’t be
held no matter the conditions, and it must not be dependent on financial
concerns and business interests.”
Henin called on the mayor to be
“empathetic” and take responsibility for what happened.
Councilman Reuven Lediansky was quick to call for an inquiry into the decision
to hold the marathon, saying Friday that “the negligence of the municipality
today took the life of a marathon runner, for the second time since
“I am shocked that despite the warnings about the heat and the
orders from the Health Ministry, the mayor decided to hold the marathon anyway
for financial reasons,” he added.
The marathon was the subject of a large
advertising campaign by the Tel Aviv Municipality, which in the lead up to the
race hyped it as “a non-stop party” and a local holiday of sorts.
municipality said in February they invested at least NIS 12 million in putting
on the marathon, which Huldai called an event of great importance “not only for
the city but also for Israel as a whole,” while Alon Solar, city councilman and
the head of the city’s sport council, said the event has “international
importance” for Tel Aviv, and will help their efforts to promote the city’s
A total of 80 runners needed medical treatment during and
after the race and 34 were hospitalized with dehydration, after ignoring the
Health Ministry’s warning that the searing heat and humidity would make
participation a danger to health.
Magen David Adom ambulances evacuated
the victims and took them to Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, while medics
treated dozens of others for light or moderate heatstroke, in which the loss of
body fluids affects numerous organs.
MDA spokesman Zaki Heller said five
runners were in the most danger and were put under anesthesia and respirated at
the hospital. In addition to Sourasky, Wolfson Medical Center in Holon and Sheba
Medical Center at Tel Hashomer also admitted patients.
ministry’s recommendation, the full 42-kilometer marathon was canceled last
The ministry also advised that all runners of shorter races cross
the finish line no later than 8:30 a.m.
and preferably earlier, before
the temperature reached 30 degrees.
But many runners – and tens of
thousands of spectators – participated on Friday as the thermometers popped
through the 36-degree mark.
People who fainted or lost consciousness were
taken by medics to a tent at the starting point and treated until additional
Heller said that at every marathon, medics are
prepared for the worst, but due to the oppressive heat, a relatively large
number of runners became dehydrated, fainted or suffered from
Altogether some 35,000 runners took to the streets of Tel
Aviv to take part in the event and around 150,000 came to cheer them
The rescheduled full marathon is due to be held on March 22.