Israeli flag raised at London's Olympic Village 390.
(photo credit: Mark Blinch/Reuters)
Israel has got to make a decision, either it wants to be successful in sports or
At the end of the day, it all comes down to a question of
Does the country’s establishment want to spend the money
needed to turn things around or is sport just not important enough.
this is not just about winning Olympic medals.
After all, had Lee Korzits
and Alex Shatilov managed to sneak onto the podium and win a medal we would have
been hailing London 2012 as a resounding success.
That is just the way it
is in sports.
It’s black or white. There’s no grey.
Israeli delegation’s failure to claim a single medal at the London Olympics,
something which hasn’t happened since 1988, has shone a spotlight on the
faltering infrastructure of local sports, a stark reminder of a reality which is
often conveniently ignored.
Research after research have shown that
sporting activity at a young age leads to a longer and better life, not to
mention greater success at the top level.
But for that to happen, Israel
has to make a commitment to invest.
There are those who foolishly claim
that any money spent on sports is a pure waste as Israel is too small a country
to compete with the world’s giants or that Jews simply don’t have the genes
needed to become top athletes.
That is utterly ignorant.
list the great Jewish athletes of all time, but there is no need considering Aly
Raisman’s triumphs in London, with the American- Jew claiming three medals, two
of them gold.
Raisman could have been representing Israel, and not just
because of The Law of Return.
Her coach, Mihai Brestyan, followed his
Jewish wife to Israel in the 1990’s and was the country’s head gymnastics coach
for several years.
However, Israel’s sporting wheelerdealers got rid of
him soon enough, constantly questioning his methods while also underpaying
Unsurprisingly, he eventually moved to the US, a loss Israeli
gymnastics couldn’t afford.
The size of Israel’s population is also no
excuse for its lack of medals.
Israel has claimed seven medals in its 60
year Olympic history.
That may sound sufficient to some, but it only
places Israel in 75th place in the world in medals per capita, behind Costa Rica
Perhaps the most frustrating part of all is that Israel can
afford to spend the money on sports should it decide to.
Out of 119
nations to win Olympic medals, Israel is in 106th place in medals per GDP (Gross
Domestic Product). Statistics show that few – if any – countries in the western
world invest less in sports than Israel.
That leads to absurd situations
like the building (or the lack of it) of the new Olympic pool at the Wingate
The pool is in its seventh year of construction, with
unexpected costs and planning mishaps delaying the completion of the complex
time and again.
Israel’s swimmers were actually among the delegation’s
better performers in London, but who knows what they might have achieved and how
many more swimmers would have taken part in the 2012 Games had there been an
adequate alternative for Israel’s one and only crumbling Olympic
Meanwhile, politicians (who I will not mention by name as they
deserve no publicity) set up useless committees to come up with obvious
conclusions which will never be implemented.
They just have to make the
decision to invest.
If they don’t, scarce little will ever change.