Israeli Olympic delegation 370.
(photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)
President Shimon Peres on Tuesday cancelled his trip to London for the opening of the Olympic Games.
The cancellation is not related to the International Olympic Committee's refusal to have a minute's silence in memory of the eleven Israeli athletes who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
Rather it is to do with the upholding of religious Jewish practice.
The opening ceremony of the London Olympics will take place on a Friday evening. There are no hotels within walking distance of the stadium. Peres, who is a good walker, would not have mind walking the extra mile if there was a hotel at the end of it – but there isn't, aside from which it would place a most unenviable burden on his security detail.
Rather than publicly desecrate the Sabbath, Peres chose to cancel his participation in the opening of the 2012 Olympics, though he would have dearly liked to cheer the Israeli team, as he did in Beijing.
Peres is not personally observant, but in his ministerial and presidential roles has always taken care to publicly observe the Sabbath and the dietary laws.
Peres said that like the rest of Israel, he will follow the games on his television set, but will cheer out loud every time that Israel wins a medal.
On Monday Peres hosted a reception for both the Olympic team and the Paralympic team, and wished both great success. He reiterated this wish on Tuesday. While the Israeli Olympic team has won at least one medal at all the Olympic Games since its first two medals in Barcelona in 1992, it has yet to match the outstanding successes of the Paralympic teams which unfailingly return home with several medals.
At the reception that Peres hosted on Monday, Zvi Varshaviak, chairman of the Israel Olympic Committee noted that while Israel has not had mega successes with regard to medals, there are some sixty countries which have never won any medals, so Israel has reason to be proud of her athletes.