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The sixth Maccabiah was the first to operate from Kfar Maccabiah in Ramat Gan. It was also the first to be organized under the status of a Regional Event within the International Sports Association following the 1960 recognition by the International Olympic Committee of Maccabi World Union as an "Organization of Olympic Standing" over the strong objections of Arab countries.
For the first time, the Maccabiah was held at the end of the summer, rather than during Sukkot, so that more Diaspora Jews, especially students, would be able to attend. Roughly 1000 athletes from 26 different countries attended the 1961 games. The new status prompted a number of improvements, most importantly an electronic scoreboard that counted to one-thirtieth of a second, and which was moved to Yad Eliahu Stadium in Tel Aviv after the Games.
Track and field remained the premier event of the 20 which were held and most of the then-existing Maccabiah running and jumping records were broken. The US won the most medals that year with a total of 58.
Two of that year1s medalists, Philip Oberlander of Canada and Michael Wittenberg of the USA, were children of medalists from former Maccabiahs, the first time such a feat occurred at the Games.
At the end of the sixth Maccabiah, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion expressed his hope that soon Jews from the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and North Africa would be allowed to participate in future Maccabiahs.