By Phillip Whitten
PHOENIX, June 19. THE SIXTEENTH World Maccabiah Games will take place July 16-25, as originally scheduled, as Games organizers rejected calls to suspend the Games, often referred to as "the Jewish Olympics," for a year due to the threat of terrorism.
Member of Parliament Eliezer Sandberg said that cancelling the Games would have amounted to "awarding a gold medal to terror."
The United States, which originally called for a one-year suspension of the quadrennial Games – the world’s second biggest international multi-sport festival, behind only the Olympics – also has decided to attend, though the decision on whether or not to participate is being left to individual athletes. "With the cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians apparently holding, we felt the threat of a terrorist attack is diminished," said Robert E. Spivak, president of Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel in an interview with swiminfo. "There’s still a threat, make no mistake about it – and we will conduct ourselves accordingly, limiting the excursions on which our athletes will be sent. But we are prepared, the Israeli government has pledged to make things as secure as possible, and our executive committee felt it was important to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel."
With some 600 athletes selected for the Games, the US will send the largest foreign contingent to Israel. Spivak told swiminfo: "At this point it’s not clear how many athletes will be going and how many have decided to stay home. We just sent notices out about our decision a few days ago. About 80 percent of the athletes we’ve heard from have indicated they will be going, but we still haven’t heard back from the majority of US athletes."
Swiminfo has learned, however, that the entire US swimming team – including triple Olympic champion and triple world record-holder Lenny Krayzelburg – has indicated it will participate in the Games. In fact, Krayzelburg sent an e-mail to the rest of the US swim team urging them to compete in Israel.
"I am very excited about representing the USA at the Maccabiah Games next
month," Krayzelburg wrote. "I urge all of you to join me as we march in to the Opening
Ceremonies of the Maccabiah."