Misplaced priorities or missed opportunity?

Sir – I would much rather see our tax shekels for sport spent on promoting and supporting amateur sport programs so all Israelis can become more physically fit (“Kadima MKs blame government for Israel’s lack of success at Olympics,” August 8).

How much better this would be for the health of our country, than to have us all sitting around watching the few try to garner gold for but a moment in the Olympic sun.

RUTH ZIMBERG
Safed

Sir, – The minister and those investigating would do well to take into account the relative low numbers of our population: 1. Who engage in active competitive sport resulting in a very limited source of suitable candidates to compete in all sports internationally.

2. Who engage in sport at all thus seriously limiting the pool from which to select.

3. Engaged in sport who achieve the supreme physical fitness demanded from our athletes be they football players, swimmers, basketball players, etc. when compared with world standards.

4. Serving in our armed forces who maintain a high level of physical fitness.

5. Who know and behave in sportsmanlike fashion on the field and off, be they participants, trainers, managers, or spectators, so that one day we will become a great sporting nation!

DAVID GOSHEN
Kiryat Ono

Sir, – Let’s stop sending our athletes to the Olympic Games.

Not because we didn’t win any medals. Even if we had won 10 medals I would still make this suggestion. While I appreciate the grueling preparations made by our sports men and women, the hundreds of millions of shekels spent on them have been largely wasted and could have gone to far better use. Israel has a lower standard of physical education than most of the countries in the world.

This is a very serious national shortcoming because – for obvious reasons – no other nation needs a higher level of physical conditioning among its younger generation than Israel. Furthermore, general physical fitness is important for overall health and also as an aspect of personality development.

Most of our schools are literally a hundred years behind the rest of the developed world in sporting facilities. Proper sports fields, fully equipped gymnasiums, swimming pools are almost unheard of in this country.

Therefore, hundreds of thousands of young people who have nothing else to do other than vegetate in front of a digital screen or aimlessly roam the streets, would have so much more content in their lives if the enormous funds directed to the usually futile dispatch of sporting delegations to the Olympics were used to build sporting facilities at schools and open clubs and provide coaches at reasonable prices or free of charge.

Give proper opportunities to our youngsters, and we’ll be able to see more Israeli medalists at Olympic podiums in 10 or 15 years. We have the raw talent. It simply needs to be nurtured.

RALPH DOBRIN
Jerusalem

Sir, – These opposition MKs who blame the government for Israel’s lack of success at the recent Olympics are correct, but only partially so. The fault goes back a lot further than just this present government.

Israel’s lack of support for sports, in schools and after, goes back many, many years. It is now time to begin to give the same sort of support to children learning to be athletes as happens in most other modern governments. But it must begin at once!

LEONARD ZURAKOV
Netanya

Sir, – In a rant very similar in style to those made by Tzipi Livni, another Kadima MK desperately seeks relevance – this one by blaming the current government for our lack of medals in the Olympic games. She suggests investing in athletes from a young age like the Soviet Union does.

But, as she points out, the Olympic games are not our priority.

And with that, we still send our athletes to the competition and watch with pride as they compete.

While we proudly watch our athletes compete, and long for our anthem to be played and our flag to fly during the presentation, we have other issues that push medals off center stage; like survival, like honing our reputation for excellence in scientific studies, like combating the ubiquitous Israel bashing throughout the world.

True, medal winners can be excellent ambassadors but the Olympics are games, entertainment, lessons in good sportsmanship, means whereby a host country can promote their tourism. They are not significant in world affairs.

MARCELLA WACHTEL
Jerusalem

Sir, – What’s all this griping about the country not putting enough money into the training of our sportsmen and athletes (“Where do we go from here?” Allon Sinai’s London Diary, Sports, August 8)? Is it vital to Israel that our competitors must come away from the Olympics with medals? What happened to, “It’s the taking part which counts” or “May the best man win”? Should everyone that takes up an occupation be state financed in order that they can do better for themselves? Or is it only when they take up an occupation where the rest of the world will see how good they are? Surely, those who manage to do better for themselves will automatically do better for the country even if it’s only the higher taxes they will have to pay.

Will Israel receive kudos from other countries if our competitors win Olympic medals? I can see the Iranians leaping out of their seats praising Israel for lifting a heavier weight than any of the other countries contestants. It’s only sport, sport!

MICHAEL SCHNEIDER
Ra’anana

Sir, – So we didn’t win any medals at the Olympics. So what? The count as of the writing of this letter was 74 of 204 countries won medals. Israel was therefore in good company. Why is not more praise given to the really great achievements of our small team? Finishing 6th in two events is praiseworthy, as are the defeat of the world’s top tennis player and his partner by our doubles team.

In addition, a 7th place in a swimming event and qualification for the semi-finals in another which included two great American swimmers are noteworthy achievements, as was qualifying for the final in overall gymnastics.

All these achievements are from young people who spend 2 to 3 years of the most athletically possible years of their lives serving their country in the armed forces.

There is no doubt that considerably more funding of sport coaching and training may result in better performances, but is the cost worthwhile?

MONTY M. ZION
Tel Mond

Sir, – Now that the Israeli Olympic team will not have won a medal at the London Olympics, I cannot be so brazen as to agree with a reader that there is a connection between that fact and the fact that the athletes participated in an opening ceremony held on a day which was both Shabbat and Tisha B’Av (with the mourning postponed to Sunday).

What I would say is that there would have been no greater kiddush Hashem and tribute to the memory of the Munich 11 than if the Israel Olympic Committee had refused to participate in the opening ceremony and even forfeited participation in competition on that holy day, not out of protest, but because of our laws and customs.

A minute of silence is a not a Jewish custom. Our custom is to study mishnayot on the anniversary date of one who has passed on. With the completion of the Daf Yomi Talmud cycle falling during the Olympic games, a Siyum Hashas could have been held in London to honor the memory of the Munich 11.

AVRAHAM FRIEDMAN
Modi’in Illit

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