The Maccabiah Games, which President Biden attended on Thursday night, are Israel’s largest sporting occasion, sometimes called the Jewish Olympics.
The occasion is open to Jewish athletes from throughout the world, in addition to Israeli athletes of any faith. About 10,000 athletes from over 60 international locations arrived in Israel this week to compete in the video games, making it considered one of the largest sporting occasions in the world.
The twenty first Maccabiah — named for an historic Jewish warrior, Judah Maccabee — started on Tuesday and is happening over a two-week interval in dozens of venues throughout the nation.
On Thursday, holding a white U.S.A. cap, Mr. Biden smiled and waved as the U.S. delegation entered the opening ceremony at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, to the soundtrack of Miley Cyrus’s “Party In The U.S.A.”
The United States is represented by 1,400 athletes, making it the largest overseas delegation. Russia and Belarus withdrew from this yr’s occasion earlier than the organizing committee had determined whether or not to bar the Russian delegation from competing due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in keeping with a spokesman for the Games.
The first Maccabiah Games happened in 1932 in Mandatory Palestine, as the area was identified when beneath British management. The purpose was to offer Jewish athletes, who generally confronted antisemitic restrictions on sporting exercise, the likelihood to compete at a excessive degree, and to “glorify the sports achievements of Jewish youth,” in keeping with the group.
In the following years, amid rising antisemitism in Europe, many members would resettle in Mandatory Palestine after the occasion.
The Games have since continued to function a pipeline to Israeli citizenship, with over 5 % of taking part athletes looking for such a standing after the occasion, in keeping with the authorities. Maccabiah presents “a golden opportunity to encourage aliyah” — or Jewish immigration to Israel — Pnina Tameno Shete, the minister for aliyah and integration, mentioned in a statement this week.
One of the most outstanding examples was Tal Brody, a United States-born basketball star who gave up a promising N.B.A. profession after profitable a gold medal at the Games with the United States in 1965. He quickly immigrated to Israel and performed for Maccabi Tel Aviv, a significant Israeli basketball workforce, later main them to a European title.