After 16 years at the helm, Zvi Varshaviak announced on Monday that he will be stepping down as the president of the Olympic Committee of Israel.

The 74-year-old has held the position almost consecutively since 1996, but will make way for his successor next month, with Igal Carmi and Arye Zaif the early favorites, while former Israel Yachting Association chairman, Yehuda Ma’ayan, has also announced his intention to run for one of the top jobs in Israeli sports.

“I inherited an Olympic Committee which was worthless,” said a proud Varshaviak at a press conference at OCI headquarters in Hadar Yosef on Monday.

“Today we have organized institutions, wonderful staff, good athletes and money.

Therefore I will end my reign as chairman on February 10.”

Varshaviak pinpointed the lack of active athletes in Israel as the main problem in local sports.

“We have 71,000 active athletes in the country and half of them are soccer and basketball players,” he said. “If we want to record achievements we need to prepare an infrastructure for sports so that around 10 percent of the population will be active athletes.”

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