Israeli Athletes’ Poor Showing in Olympic Games Being Investigated

The poor performance of the Israeli athletic delegation at the Los Angeles Olympic Games earlier this month where Israel failed to bring home an Olympic medal will come under the scrutiny of government and sports officials.

Education Minister Zevulun Hammer announced today that he would initiate a thorough discussion on the performance of the Israeli Olympic team. The meetings will take place as soon as Yariv Oren, director general of the Sports Authority, returns from a trip abroad. Also attending the meetings will be representatives of all sports branches in the country.

The poor performance of the Israeli athletes in Los Angeles and the relatively large Israeli delegation–56, including 38 athletes, 12 coaches and 6 officials– came under sharp public attack. Critics of the sports authorities charged that Israel should invest much more in preparing a strong sports infrastructure at home, before diverting resources to the Olympic Games, where the results were disappointing.

Although Hammer’s initiative was undoubtedly directed to drawing lessons from the Los Angeles Games, he said in a communique that there was no doubt of the political and competitive importance of continued participation in the Olympic Games.

The Israeli delegation did not fare well in the summer Games, and Israel has yet to win a medal in any competition since the Jewish State began participating in the Olympic Games in 1952. Israel’s best hope this summer for a medal was in the 470 class yachting competition. But Shimson Brokman and Eitan Friedlander finished in seventh place in this event, well behind the winning score of Spain.

In other events, for example, Yehuda Atedji, finished in 14th place in the board sailing competition. Maya Bentsur was eliminated in the preliminaries in the women’s broad jump. The Israel athletes in women’s gymnastics finished in the 59th and 60th spot in their competition, while the men’s gymnasts finished in 42nd and 43rd place in their respective events.

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