In anticipation of Thursday’s opening ceremony for the 19th quadrennial
Maccabiah Games – expected to draw tens of thousands to Teddy Kollek Stadium –
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sunday that authorities are leaving
nothing to chance.
This year’s events are expected to attract roughly
30,000 spectators and host 9,000 athletes from over 70 countries, making it the
largest Maccabiah Games in history.
“Israeli Police are implementing
final security measures at the stadium where the game’s opening ceremony will
commence Thursday evening,” Rosenfeld said Sunday afternoon.
thousand police officers will be on hand to secure the area at all
According to Rosenfeld, a breadth of specialized units –
including undercover officers, patrol units and instant response teams – will be
in and around the stadium for the duration of the games to ensure the public’s
and athletes’ safety.
The Maccabiah Games, also known as the “Jewish
Olympics,” is the world’s largest international Jewish athletic competition.
Indeed, over 160,000 hotel rooms in the capital have already been booked,
estimated to generate over NIS 200 million.
“If you consider the last
Olympics, there are 10,500 athletes,” said Maccabiah chairman Amir Peled, at a
press conference to promote the games last week. “Obviously this is not the same
level as the Olympics, but in size, this one is bigger than the one in Sydney –
and you have to remember we are such a small country.”
Nir Barkat, who has successfully overseen the city’s European U-21 Soccer
Championship, Formula 1 “Peace Road Show,” and expansion of Teddy Kollek
Stadium, said he is pleased the capital continues to host major sporting
“Jerusalem is going through a big sports moment right now,” he
said. “From the beginning of my term as mayor, I have placed sports and culture
as a major priority.
It’s important for Jerusalem to be the center of
gravity in Israel – a city that represents the deep connection between Jews all
over the world.”
Last month 12,000 additional seats were added to Teddy
Kollek Stadium, increasing its current capacity to 34,000. As part of a NIS
100m. expansion plan, 16,000 more seats are scheduled to be added to increase
total capacity to 50,000.
Traditionally held in Tel Aviv, this year
Jerusalem will host all three of the game’s main events: Thursday’s opening
ceremony, the Youth Event at Sultan’s Pool on July 25 and the closing
celebration on July 30.
“I’m going to be a big spectator and cheer all of
the athletes on,” Barkat said.