Peres proposes Israeli-Palestinian youth sports teams

President of the Brazil Olympic Committee visits president, asks Israel to participate in preparations for 2016 games.

Peres Brazil olympics 311 (photo credit: Genie Agency)
Peres Brazil olympics 311
(photo credit: Genie Agency)
Almost exactly a year to the day after their meeting in Rio de Janeiro last November, President Shimon Peres and Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of the Brazil Olympic Committee and Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Brazil Olympics met again in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Their previous meeting had been within the framework of Peres's state visit to Brazil, the first in 40 years by a President of Israel.
Sinai says: Rogge misses a golden opportunity
IOC president invites Israel, Palestine for talks
Ex-guerrilla to be Brazil's first female president
Nuzman came to Israel to discuss plans for the Olympics with Peres, Sport and Culture Minister Limor Livnat, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer and the Israel Olympic Committee. Among those attending Nuzman's meeting with Peres were Brazil's Ambassador Maria Elisa De Bittencourt Berenguer, Zvi Varchaviak, President of the Israeli Olympic Committee, Ephraim Singer, Director-Generalof the IOC, and Alex Giladi a member of the Olympic Coordinating Commission.
Nuzman, who represented his country in the first male volleyball team in the Summer Olympics in 1964, and was President of the Brazil Volleyball Federation for twenty years, was excited about having
represented Brazil in the Maccabiah Games in Israel in 1961, 1965, 1969 and 1973 and brought press clippings from those events to show to Peres.
This is his fifth visit to the country.
Noting that Brazil has a newly elected President, Peres asked whether her predecessor Lula da Silva, who had been heavily involved in Brazil's bid for the Olympics, was still involved.
The reply was in the affirmative. "He loves sport," said Nuzman. Brazil's new President Dilma Rousseff , who worked closely with Lula da Silva, is also very much involved with the Olympics said Nuzman.
During his visit to Brazil, Peres was enormously impressed by the harmonious relationship between Jews and Arabs, which he thought could serve as a model for the Middle East. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, who was also in Brazil towards the end of last year, was equally impressed and when he and Peres discussed their respective visits with each other, this was one of the
highlights for each of them.
Based on this observation,
Peres proposed that Brazil host joint Israeli/Palestinian youth teams at various of the year, because sport is a great equalizer. He did not suggest a joint Olympic team, although he was pleased that Jews and Arabs are serving together on Brazil's Olympic Committee. The Peres Peace Center which has demonstrated that sport is a means of breaking down psychological and political barriers, has sponsored such teams of youngsters in games in Israel and abroad. The President's proposal may gain support as there are both Jews and Arabs on the Brazil Olympic Committee.
Both Varchaviak and Singer told reporters that the Brazil Olympics provided fantastic opportunities for Israel's high-tech and security industries.
"We want Israeli companies to participate in the preparations. It's worth billions," said Varshaviak, while Singer noted that Israel had already proved its mettle in the technical and security products it had provided to the Athens and Beijing Olympics.
Singer was also keen to secure Brazil's help in getting more Israeli athletes to the games.
Brazil is also aware of Israel's organizational experience and capability, said De Bittencourt Berenguer, and there is a lot of interest in both countries in Israel's participation in the preparations, not only of the infrastructure and the security, but also in the organizational aspects. Underscoring that Brazil and Israel already have very close links in other fields, she was convinced that the Olympic Games will bring the two countries to even closer cooperation.