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The fourth Maccabiah, held in 1953, took place amid Fedayeen raids and a national economy struggling to get off the ground. Despite this, Israel hosted 892 athletes and expanded both its repertoire of events and the number of countries represented at the Games. Bowling was added and Brazil, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Chile sent their first teams as Israeli President Iztchak Ben-Zvi officially opened the events.
Non-Jewish medal winners from the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, the first for Israel as a nation, were invited to put on a synchronized swimming performance along with five Americans.
The largest individual events at the Maccabiah that year were track and field and swimming, with 100 and 72 competitors, respectively, while soccer was the largest team support. Still lacking some of the technical equipment needed, some events were held in public gymnasiums and schools rather than the official Maccabiah gymnasium.
The 1953 Games saw some stand-out athletes, including Canadian wrestler Fred Oberlander, who won the first Eliyahu Savislotsky Medal for being an outstanding Maccabiah athlete. The medal was been awarded at all subsequent Maccabiahs since. The United States also fielded some top-notch athletes who were also a part of the American delegation to the Olympics in Helsinki.
Following the 1953 Games, organizers decided to put Maccabiah on a four-year cycle like most other international sporting events in the hopes that the International Olympic Committee would declare Maccabiah a regional event. The official status was granted that same decade. From this year on, the Maccabiah has always been held in the year after the Summer Olympic Games.