Israel Is Home To One Of World's Biggest Sporting Events

Hadas Kuznits
April 22, 2018 - 2:00 am
Neta Rivkin of Israel holds her nation's flag as her fellow Olympians follow during the opening ceremonies for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

© Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Sports is a big part of the Israeli culture and this little Middle Eastern country is a place where many come together to celebrate sports from all over the world.

Israel is home to the Maccabiah.

"It's the third largest sporting event in the world," said David Snyder, with Maccabi USA. "The Maccabiah Games take place every four years in Israel and it's often affectionately known as the Jewish Olympics."

He says sports bring people together.

"Everybody can play a sport. It's like a common or universal language when you're out there competing," Snyder said. "It's over 10,000 athletes from 85 different countries competing in 45 different sports."

And many of the participants may be visiting Israel for the first time when they compete.

"The beauty of Maccabi USA is that it's based on sports," Snyder explained. "You go there as an athlete and you come back as an ambassador for the state of Israel."

Meanwhile, Israel has competed in the Olympic Games, with their first medal won in 1992 and their first and only gold won in 2004.

"As Israel continues to seek peace with its neighbors and build relationships with other countries, there will be more opportunities for Israel to compete in more international forums," Snyder said. "And that in and of itself will expose more Israelis to the opportunities available to them."