Sinai Says: Politicians must throw support behind our Olympians

The elected members of the next Knesset will play an important role in the support Israel's top athletes will receive.

Livni 224.88 (photo credit: GPO)
Livni 224.88
(photo credit: GPO)
The future of sport in Israel will not be a factor in the upcoming elections for the 18th Knesset, and judging by the political, economic and defense situation in the country the subject will continue to play an insignificant role for many elections to come. However, the elected members of the next Knesset will play an especially important role in the support Israel's top athletes will receive ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games. The London Games may still be far away, but if the next Knesset doesn't pass the Olympic preparations law, which will outline governmental budgeting of Olympic and Paralympic athletes, Israel's sportsmen and sportswomen face an uncertain future. A generous $12 million donation by the Sidney Frank Foundation meant Israel's best got unprecedented assistance ahead of the Beijing Games. But now that the contribution has ended the Olympic Committee of Israel desperately needs the Olympic law to be passed as soon as possible. Even with the Frank Foundation's millions, many of the country's Olympic athletes got far less than their counterparts abroad, so you can only imagine the difficulties they will face if the next government doesn't decide to pass the law. "We're entering a new period and it's clear that we will have less money than we had previously, unless we can get the Olympic preparation law passed," OCI General Secretary Efraim Zinger told me on Tuesday. "This is extremely significant and we are going to try and push it forward with all that we've got after the elections. You can't make long-term plans on the base of a one-off donation. Now is the time to act. This is the answer to all our financial struggles." Ironically, Zinger feels that the Frank Foundation's large contribution may have hindered the OCI's attempts to pass the law prior to the Beijing Games. "In a way, the fact that we got the donation subconsciously affected the MK's because they knew we had money," Zinger said. "The whole process kept getting postponed because they knew we would manage in Beijing. That was true, but this time the law is the solution. "It's the answer to our difficulties. I hope we can get it passed in the first session of the next Knesset." Anyone who values and holds Israeli sport close to his or her heart will be hoping Zinger is successful.