Israel's Maccabiah Games Set for July 10-21.
Set to run from July 10 to 21, the 17th Maccabiah Games promises to be the biggest sports event ever held in Israel. The opening ceremonies are shaping up to be an extravaganza of Olympian proportions involving a torch relay from the tombs of the ancient Maccabean leaders. Some 7,000 male and female athletes, along with 4,000 dancers, singers, artists and players are slated to participate in the opening march into the Ramat Gan International stadium in B'nei Brak near Tel Aviv.
Thousands of participants are expected from at least 55 countries, including sizeable delegations from Canada and the United States. Competitions in swimming, chess, golf, tennis, cricket, softball, rugby and other sports are scheduled in a range of facilities in Caesaria, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ashdod, Petah Tikvah, Herzliyah and other sites.
After the last race has been run, the Games will close with a big-screen stage extravaganza in which celebrity performers and a large troupe of dancers will kick up a fond farewell against the floodlit backdrop of Jerusalem's Old City walls.
Often described as the "Jewish Olympics," the Maccabiah Games are held in Israel every four years. The idea originated with Yosef Yekutieli, a Swedish teenager who was so excited by the 1912 Olympic games in Stockholm that he conceived the notion of a worldwide Olympics for Jewish sports people in the land of Israel. The first Maccabiah-hosted event was a motorbike trek around the Mediterranean basin in 1931. Planned for display during the current games, a set of memorabilia exhibits will recall the first and second Maccabiahs of 1932 and 1935.