Israel backs decision to postpone Tokyo Games

IOC member Gilady: ‘Best solution’ • Blue-and-white baseball GM to ‘Post’: ‘Whenever they reschedule – we will be ready’

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Opening ceremony – Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 9, 2018 - Alexei Bychenko of Israel carries the national flag.  (photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Opening ceremony – Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 9, 2018 - Alexei Bychenko of Israel carries the national flag.
(photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)
Members of Israel’s sports community were widely supportive of the International Olympic Committee’s decision on Tuesday to postpone the Tokyo Summer Games to 2021 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We welcome the decision and the official announcement of the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government on the postponement of the Olympic Games,” the Olympic Committee of Israel said in a statement. “This has been a difficult period of uncertainty and we hope there will be an official announcement of the new 2021 timeline in the coming days, so that the new qualification targets and goals can be clearly marked.”
“We will work quickly to map all levels of action required to prepare for the new dates, in organizational and budgetary aspects, with a clear goal of providing our athletes and professional teams with the best possible conditions for optimal preparation,” it said. “Although this postponement was inevitable, the disappointment is still difficult. However, in sport, disappointment is a part of the process and the path to success. We are confident that Israeli athletes will succeed and come through this crisis and prove their mental strength as they have demonstrated many times in the past.”
Israel was set to send its largest delegation to Tokyo for the Olympics, which were to open on July 24 and run through August 9.
Alex Gilady, Israel’s representative on the IOC, lauded the decision to push back the Games.
“This was the best solution,” he told The Jerusalem Post from Japan on Tuesday. “All the Israeli athletes who have already qualified will still compete if they wish. The only other option was cancellation, which is not the Olympic way and not the Japanese way.”
One of the most hyped stories from Israel’s perspective was the qualification of the blue-and-white baseball team for the Games, one of just six nations that was to take part in the Olympic tournament. With a roster of new-immigrant professional players and Israeli natives, a podium finish was very much on the table.
Team Israel general manager and former Israel Association of Baseball president Peter Kurz told Post Olympics correspondent Danny Grossman: “We understand the need to postpone the Olympic Games. We will continue to prepare ourselves with all our energy for the Olympics and will do everything in our power to bring a medal home to Israel. In the meantime, stay home and take care of yourselves. We’ll get through this together.
“If anything, baseball teaches us that the game is not over until the last man is out. The long road we have traveled to qualify for the Olympics, winning four straight tournaments while coming from behind in many of the games, proves that we have the resilience, willpower and the talent to get the job done. Mark my words: Whenever they reschedule, we will be ready,” Kurz said.
Ian Kinsler, a 14-year Major League Baseball veteran and the latest addition to Israel’s national team upon making aliyah earlier this month, took the postponement in stride.
“It’s disappointing, but with all challenges come opportunities,” he told the Post. “Personally, I know I’ll have the opportunity to get into top shape, even though, of course, I’d be ready this year as well.
“A real silver lining is the fact that we will be able to use next spring’s World Baseball Classic, which will be a competition at the highest possible level, to prepare better for the Olympics.”
In addition to the Olympics, the Paralympics, which were set to take place in Tokyo from August 25, were postponed until 2021.
The IDF Disabled Veterans Organization, of which more than half of Israel’s Paralympians are members, said in a statement on Tuesday: “We feel the pain of our excellent Olympic athletes, who have been training for this moment for over four years and have already achieved great accomplishments.
“The IDF will continue to support its athletes, our athletes, who will continue to train with all their might for the next year’s Olympics. We are confident that they will bring respect and achievements to the State of Israel and disabled sports throughout the world.”
Israel Athletics president Ami Baran told the Post: “For us, it will give us a better opportunity to prepare for 2021, especially those athletes who have not been training because of the coronavirus restrictions.
“Also, we have a handful of athletes on the verge of meeting the Olympic criteria for qualification, and this postponement will open the door for more of Israel’s athletes to participate.”