By Phillip Whitten
PHILADELPHIA, June 7. THE United States is asking for a one year postponment of the 16th World Maccabiah Games, due to the threat of Palestinian terrorism. The multisport Games – often referred to as the "Jewish Olympics" – are scheduled to begin on July 16 in Tel Aviv.
Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel is urging the Maccabi World Union – the event's governing body – to postpone the event due to the terrorist threat. A delegation from the US, which fields the largest team outside of the host Israelis, will meet with Maccabi World Union officials in Israel this weekend and announce the results of that meeting next Monday, June 11. Some 600 athletes have been selected to represent the USA at the Games this summer.
Robert Spivak, president of Maccabi USA, told swiminfo the US is asking for a one-year postponment. Swiminfo has learned that the Canadians and British are also asking for a year's postponment.
However, Maccabiah Games Organizing committee chairman Uzi Zwebner insisted today that the Games will continue as planned.
"We will not cancel the Games," he told Jerusalem Post Radio.
Zwebner recently returned from a trip to South America where he talked with athletes, their parents, and local officials. He said he found "very committed people who wanted to come to Israel."
To date, only 800 of the 4,000 visiting athletes, have cancelled plans to compete due to the terrorist threat, Zwebner noted.
Zwebner said he would meet with the US delegation, headed by Jordan Weinstein and Ron Carner, as well as delegations from other countries this Sunday. He said that meeting would help his organizing committee decide whether to postpone the Games, scale them down, or continue as planned. "In the end," he said, "it will be the athletes themselves who determine what kind of tournament it will be."
Over the years, the Maccabiah Games have featured such Olympic greats as swimmer Mark Spitz and gymnast Mitch Gaylord. America's Lenny Krayzelburg, a triple Olympic gold medalist in Sydney last year, is scheduled to compete in Israel this summer.
In a letter sent on June 4 to US Maccabiah Games athletes, Bob Spivak, president of Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel, said: "We are all deeply saddened and outraged by the continued tragic loss of life and injuries suffered by our fellow Jews in Israel. As always, we stand united with our brothers and sisters in Israel during this very difficult time."