JERUSALEM (JTA) – More than 750 competitors from the United States arrived in Israel to compete in the 18th Maccabiah Games.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed the delegation at a reception over the weekend. Another 150 American participants are scheduled to arrive to participate.
Jason Lezak, the Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer, attended the welcoming event. He opted to participate in the Maccabiah instead of competing in the World Championships.
Lezak said the decision to forego the World Championships was not an easy one, but that he welcomed the opportunity to compete alongside other Jewish athletes.
"I’ve always wanted the chance to participate in the Maccabiah, and I’ve now reached a point in my career where that’s possible," he said.
The games begin July 13. Participants will have an opportunity to tour sites of interest in Israel before the start of the competitions.