(photo credit: Courtesy)
Maccabi Tel Aviv chairman and honorary president of the 18th Maccabiah, Shimon Mizrahi, recalled his childhood love for the Games on Sunday.
"I remember myself as a child when my father competed in the first Games in 1932. The entire country was looking forward to the Maccabiah," Mizrahi said at a press conference held at Kfar Maccabiah on Sunday, marking 29 days to the start of the Games.
"When I hear that some 5,500 people will be coming from abroad it makes me proud that I'm the honorary president of the Games."
Some 5,500 athletes from around the world, as well as 2,000 Israelis, will compete in the Games, which will officially get underway on July 13 with the Opening Ceremony at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
The US will once more send the biggest delegation from abroad, with some 960 athletes expected to represent America in the 18th edition of the Games.
The British delegation will number some 550 athletes, with Canada to send 480 contestants and Australia to be represented by 410 competitors.
More than 1,200 athletes are expected from South and Central America, with Brazil and Argentina leading the way with 390 and 330 participants respectively.
Also amongst the largest delegations are Russia (320), South Africa (230), Germany (180) and France (130).
"The registration for the Games is far beyond our expectations," said chairman of the organizing committee, Itamar Herman.
"There has been an increase of 15 percent in participants from the last Maccabiah. This number is even more impressive when you consider the economic crisis."