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Australian athletes ask Israel to provide temporary funding

SYDNEY, Australia, Aug. 4 (JTA) — Australian Jewish umbrella bodies are asking the Israeli government to provide a loan of $500,000 to assist the victims of the Maccabiah Games bridge disaster. The request by the Australian Jewish community and the Australian Zionist movement follows a call by Maccabi Australia for money until insurance claims are settled. The president of Maccabi Australia, Tom Goldman, said the money would assist the families of the deceased and injured who are currently in need of financial aid. Two athletes were killed and dozens injured during the opening ceremonies of the 15th Maccabiah Games in Israel on July 14 when a bridge that led to the Ramat Gan Stadium — and built for the games — collapsed. A third member of the Australian team died later as a result of her injuries. The accident is currently under investigation. Maccabi Australia officials are not putting a figure on the level of financial compensation that may eventually be sought, given factors such as the continued hospitalization of some team members and the unknown extent of economic losses. Now that the team has returned to Australia, the organization has also launched a support fund. The relief fund was given an initial donation of $1,500 from the Sports Ministry of the State of New South Wales. Community welfare bodies are currently providing psychological support to some of the team members.