Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has told Israel’s largest ever Olympic Games delegation to “make history” at next month’s Games in Rio.
Hosting the country’s 47 Olympic athletes – four more than the record set in Beijing in 2008 – and 30 Paralympian’s at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem, after they had earlier attended a ceremony in Tel Aviv to honour the 11 Israelis murdered during the 1972 Munich Games, Rivlin told them: “We are at the beginning of the Rio Olympics. You have all done so successfully [to reach Rio], now it’s your turn to reap the fruits of fame and make history. We trust you and are confident that you will bring medals home.”
Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sports, Miri Regev was also in attendance and while saying how proud she was of the athletes, also urged Olympic authorities to be wary of anti-Semitism in sport. She said: “You [the athletes] are a source of pride and inspiration shared by Israel as a whole, you are the heroes and heroines of our culture and I’m proud of you all. Yet we know we face a few difficulties on and off the pitch. We want the opening ceremony to perpetuate the memory of the victims of the Munich Games and will continue to press that this is recognised in the future. Unfortunately, today some countries try to censor us, these phenomena represent the new anti-Semitism and the IOC should take care to separate sport and politics”.
Along with the athletes were chairman of the IOC Igal Carmi, CEO Gili Lustig, former Paralympian Committee chairman Danny Ben Abu and CEO Ron Bolotin Paralympian Committee. Neta Rivkin, who will be the flag bearer at the Games’ opening ceremony, speaking on behalf of the athletes, said: “This is the third time I’m here and I am very proud. We are all ambassadors. When I was told that I would be the one who’ll carry the flag, it felt like a dream come true, I promise everyone we will do our best in Rio, we all want to please the people of Israel.”