Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is the Maccabiah too expensive?

Amir Mizroch, the Jerusalem Post's news editor, makes a convincing case on his blog that it is:

This year’s Jewish Olympics, more than in years’ past, have become the Rich Jew’s Olympics. Even though these games are the biggest to date, so many athletes couldn’t afford to come that the very character of the competition is in question. If only rich Jews from rich countries can afford to come to the Maccabiah, what does that say about our solidarity as a people? The world financial crisis has had a huge impact on the capacity of the World Maccabiah to get sponsorship for teams. Many longtime sponsors have remained loyal, but their contributions have decreased. The worsening economic climate has also made it harder for teams and individuals to raise the money needed to travel to the games.

Australia didn’t send a junior cricket team and kept two soccer teams at home. South Africa’s 2005 gold-medal winning rugby team stayed home, and so did the water polo team. There is a young Canadian swimmer, top of his age group in that sports-mad country, who stayed at home because of lack of funds. The cost for the South African team has almost doubled since the last games. In 2005 the South Africans paid R25, 000 each. Now, as the Rand continues its descent, the price for competing in the games has shot up to
R45, 000, leaving many priced out of the market.

Even in Israel, there are some athletes who chose not to miss several days of work in order to compete, because they know there are 14 unemployed people lining up for every job, and they don’t want to irritate their bosses.

To make matters worse, there has been a deluge of complaints about the organization of the games, mostly around the issue of accommodation. Some competitors have already pulled out and gone home, others are staying with relatives, and some others say they won’t be coming back to the next Maccabiah. When the cost of coming is so high, sub-standard living conditions add real insult to injury.

Read the whole piece here.

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