RHYTHMIC GYMNAST Linoy Ashram.
(photo credit: OLYMPIC COMMITTEE OF ISRAEL)
The second edition of the European Games will be held in Minsk, beginning on June 21, and will run through June 30 in the Belarus capital. Israel will be one of 50 countries participating in the Games, and will be sending a delegation of more than 30 athletes in a variety of disciplines.
In total, the Games will feature over 4,000 athletes who will vie for 200 sets of medals as well as berths in the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. There will be 15 sports represented including athletics, badminton, gymnastics and judo.
The Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus in Israel, H.E. Vladimir Skvortsov stated: “We expect that hundreds and even thousands of Israelis will visit Minsk as tourists and spectators of the Games. We welcome the active participation in the European Games of the Israeli delegation, with which we have deep historical ties.”
Skvortsov also offered an interesting angle between the two countries.
“Many in Israel know that a number of prominent figures in Israel were born in Belarus, including politicians, scientists, artists, and Nobel laureates,” he said. “Suffice to say that Belarus ‘gave’ Israel three presidents and three prime ministers. It is important to remember that in the history of our country there was a time when Yiddish was one of the official languages in the country and before World War II, Jewish people made up more than half of the population in several cities in the country.”
Igal Carmi, president of the Olympic Committee of Israel, has a high expectations for the Games.
“I am certain that the Games will be a success for both Belarus and for Israel,” said Carmi. “The European Games are very important to us, especially due to the fact that it is one year before the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The athletes will see how a competition of this magnitude is organized and we are expecting to win three or four medals. We are very excited.”
Veteran blue-and-white badminton player Misha Zilberman was thrilled to not only be a part of the Israeli delegation once again, but to lead it.
“I want to thank the Israel Olympic Committee for having chosen me to lead the delegation,” said Zilberman. “I have been a part of two Olympic Games as well as the previous European Games and this is a huge honor.”
Zilberman also noted the importance of the games in reference to the upcoming Olympics.
“One of the opportunities that these Games allow for is the chance to automatically qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo should one meet the criteria.”
Rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram is one of the blue-and-white’s medal hopes at the Games and looks at the competition as a perfect warmup for next year’s Olympics.
“The conditions are that of a mini-Olympics, with an Olympic village and competing in what is the European Olympics,” noted Ashram. “I’m excited because I did not take part in the European Championships this year, so this is very important to me. This is also a very different experience for me because there will be athletes around participating in many different sports. I’m ready to compete. “
Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat will also be looking to score a medal in Minsk.
“Every competition is important and is a preparation for something,” he explained. “I participated in the Youth Olympic Games in 2014 and this will be similar. I want to stand on the podium.”
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