Rejuvinating the Maccabiah in the new State

June 24, 2009 06:47
1 minute read.

The 1950 Games was the first Maccabiah to take place in the independent Jewish state, although there had been an attempt at hosting a Maccabiah twelve years earlier. Because of violence stemming from the Arab Revolt in what was then Palestine, a crackdown by the British on illegal immigration and growing restrictions on European Jews, especially on travel, the 1938 Maccabiah was initially postponed then canceled altogether. The effects of the Holocaust were readily apparent in the 1950 games -participation was down to 800 athletes from 17 countries after 1,250 athletes from 28 countries competed at the second Maccabiah in 1935. Additionally there were no delegations from any of the central and eastern European countries that had previously represented the majority of Maccabiah participants, both because of the Holocaust and the ercetion of the Iron Curtain that had since cut them off from the rest of the world. There also were no delegations from the Arab countries. For the next 40 or so years, Maccabiah delegations would come almost exclusively from the "Western" world. These games included a number of delegations new to the games and the first time that a "village" - a tent community on the Tel Aviv shore - was constructed to allow all of the athletes could live together. The president of the International Olympics Committee attended the 1950 Maccabiah and was so impressed with the event that he invited Israel to send a delegation to the 1952 Olympic games in Helsinki.

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