Israel to host 9,000 athletes at record Maccabiah Games

Several thousand police units to monitor largest Maccabiah Games in history; Thursday’s opening ceremony in capital to host some 30,000 spectators.

July 14, 2013 22:26
2 minute read.
The Australian delegation at the 2009 Maccabiah.

Maccabiah Australian delegation 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

In anticipation of Thursday’s opening ceremony for the 19th quadrennial Maccabiah Games – expected to draw tens of thousands to Teddy Kollek Stadium – Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Sunday that authorities are leaving nothing to chance.

This year’s events are expected to attract roughly 30,000 spectators and host 9,000 athletes from over 70 countries, making it the largest Maccabiah Games in history.

“Israeli Police are implementing final security measures at the stadium where the game’s opening ceremony will commence Thursday evening,” Rosenfeld said Sunday afternoon.

“Several thousand police officers will be on hand to secure the area at all times.”

According to Rosenfeld, a breadth of specialized units – including undercover officers, patrol units and instant response teams – will be in and around the stadium for the duration of the games to ensure the public’s and athletes’ safety.

The Maccabiah Games, also known as the “Jewish Olympics,” is the world’s largest international Jewish athletic competition. Indeed, over 160,000 hotel rooms in the capital have already been booked, estimated to generate over NIS 200 million.

“If you consider the last Olympics, there are 10,500 athletes,” said Maccabiah chairman Amir Peled, at a press conference to promote the games last week. “Obviously this is not the same level as the Olympics, but in size, this one is bigger than the one in Sydney – and you have to remember we are such a small country.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who has successfully overseen the city’s European U-21 Soccer Championship, Formula 1 “Peace Road Show,” and expansion of Teddy Kollek Stadium, said he is pleased the capital continues to host major sporting events.

“Jerusalem is going through a big sports moment right now,” he said. “From the beginning of my term as mayor, I have placed sports and culture as a major priority.

It’s important for Jerusalem to be the center of gravity in Israel – a city that represents the deep connection between Jews all over the world.”

Last month 12,000 additional seats were added to Teddy Kollek Stadium, increasing its current capacity to 34,000. As part of a NIS 100m. expansion plan, 16,000 more seats are scheduled to be added to increase total capacity to 50,000.

Traditionally held in Tel Aviv, this year Jerusalem will host all three of the game’s main events: Thursday’s opening ceremony, the Youth Event at Sultan’s Pool on July 25 and the closing celebration on July 30.

“I’m going to be a big spectator and cheer all of the athletes on,” Barkat said.

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