Behind the Headlines Prospects for Israeli Team at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow
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Behind the Headlines Prospects for Israeli Team at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow

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Chaim Glovinsky, treasurer of the Israel Olympic Committee, returned here last week from a three-day meeting with Soviet officials in Moscow and reported that from all indications the Israel Olympic contingent at the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980 will be accorded all honors and treated with utmost respect.

The veteran. Israeli sportsman told this reporter that “My meeting, together with the international Olympic representatives from other countries. with Vice President Vitaly Smirnov of the Soviet Olympic organizing committee, indicates we have nothing to fear. Since we have no diplomatic relations with Russia, we shall be represented by the Finnish Embassy.”

Glovinsky said that Smirnov “took us on a tour of the playing venues and showed us around the Olympic village. Off-hand I feel the facilities I saw there are nicer than those in Munich and Montreal.” The outdoor stadium seats 100,000 people and organizing plans call for the entrance of the teams opening the Games to be less tiring and tedious than in the previous competitions, he said.

“We have a slight problem in the food department which should not cause too much difficulty,” Glovinsky noted. “There is no way we can get kosher meat for our athletes. There isn’t any available to the Soviet organizing committee and they have asked us not to import meat products for fear it may become tainted. However, the menu will be changed every five days and we shall have a big selection of fish products, vegetables and fruits.”


The synagogue in the Olympic village will be available to all members of the Jewish faith participating for the various countries entered in the 1980 Olympiade, he said.

“All Israeli athletes will enter and leave the Soviet Union without requiring visas,” Glovinsky stated. “Of course, the 170 Israeli visitors will have to secure the necessary visas before they enter the country and these will be obtained through the good services of the Finnish Consulate in Tel Aviv. All countries will be restricted so far as the number of supporters permitted to attend since Russia wants to make certain its own population has the opportunity to take in the Games. With a population of 286,000,000 people, obviously the number of outside visitors will be restricted.”

A Tel Aviv source indicated to this reporter that it will cost each Israeli a minimum of IL 80,000 to spend 15 days in the USSR.

“On my trip I was accorded every courtesy, including the use of a car, guided tours and splendid social hospitality,” Glovinsky concluded. However, Israeli observers are less enthusiastic over the reception the Israeli team will receive, remembering the hardships encountered by the athletes in the Soviet Union during the University Games conducted in the summer of 1973.

In addition, many Israeli sportswriters expressed considerable pessimism as they recalled the difficulties they experienced with Soviet censorship and getting their visas cleared. They said they anticipate a rough time from the Soviet authorities when the time comes for them to depart for the USSR and enter Moscow.


Meanwhile, Shmuel Lalkin, chairman of the Israel Sports Federation, feels that Israel might be able to qualify as many as 40 athletes for the competition, depending on how the sports teams make out At the present moment there is a strong likelihood that the basketball team here could qualify in the final eliminations which will be held in Switzerland in May.

Local hoop aficionados feel that if and when Mickey Berkowitz returns to the squad, the National Team will have enough power to qualify. Lalkin feels that another team which stands a good chance of making it all the way to Moscow might be the water polo squad. As it turns out, the Asian eliminations will be held in Israel, provided, of course, if three foreign nations participate together with Israel’s polo squad in the eliminations. As of the moment, Japan, usually reluctant to come to Israel for fear of offending the Arab League nations, has acquiesced and definitely will appear.

Lalkin indicated that with the acceptance of one more Asian country the elimination will take place shortly. In the event that no other Asian countries enter the qualifying round to be held in Tel Aviv, then Israel and Japan automatically go on to Europe to fight it out with the European National contender for the 16 spots which will be open in the water polo field.

As Lalkin sees it, there is good possibility that the Holy Land squad will have at least two shooters, particularly in the rifle competition, two or three wrestlers, two yacht crews comprised of four men, possibly all of the American and/or pseudo-Israelis who have come over to participate and are willing to go to the Soviet Union on Israeli passports. This could number a minimum of four participants, the swimming squad will be very strong and may go up to five or six contestants. Fencing will qualify one or two athletes.

Glovinsky, in his discussion with Soviet authorities as to the certainty of the Israeli citizens getting to the USSR, was told by the tourist people in the USSR that IL 40,000 per person was required in advance. In the event that visas, for one reason or another, are not obtained, the fans who shell out the money will just lose their deposits.


In another sports development, the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball five is practicing seriously and will depart for Spain Sept. 16 for a series of games and a tournament in that country slated for the latter part of the month. Another group of basketball players has been invited to go to Austria and by same strange quirk the two games in which the Israeli team will participate have been slated for the two nights of Rosh Hashanah. Weird schedule making, but after all, Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky can’t be bothered with the observance of the Jewish New Year by foreign competitors.

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