The Maccabiah Games first held in 1932, are an international Jewish multi-sport event now held quadrennially in Israel. It is the third-largest sporting event in the world, with 9,000 athletes competing on behalf of 78 countries, the Maccabiah is often referred to as the Jewish Olympics. The 19th Maccabiah, the most recent edition of the Games, was held in 2013, the next edition, the 20th Maccabiah, will be held in July 2017. The most recent Games brought together 9,000 athletes, making it the third-largest international sporting event in the world, the 9000 athletes competed on behalf of 78 countries. Originally, the Maccabiah was held three years, since the 4th Maccabiah, the event is held the year following the Olympic Games. In contrast with other large events such as the Olympics, competitions at the Maccabiah are organized into four distinct divisions – Juniors, Open, Masters. Maccabiah is open to Jewish athletes as well as Israeli athletes regardless of religion, Arab Israelis have also competed in it. The Maccabiah is a forum for Jewish athletes to meet and convene, it provides these athletes with opportunities to explore Israel. The name Maccabiah was chosen after Judah Maccabee, a Jewish leader that defended his country from king Antiochus, modiin, Judahs birthplace is also the starting location of the torch thats used to light the flames at the opening ceremony, a tradition that started at the 4th Maccabiah. The Maccabiah games were the result of a proposal put forward by Yosef Yekutieli in 1929 at the Maccabi World Congress, Yekutieli, who heard about the Stockholm Olympics, wanted to form a representation for Eretz Yisrael. Following the appointment of the new British Palestine High Commissioner, Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope, the 1st Maccabiah opened on March 28,1932. The Maccabiah Stadium in Tel Aviv, which was built with donations, was filled to capacity, roughly 400 athletes from 18 countries took part in everything from swimming, football, and handball, to various athletics. In the first games, the Polish delegation took first place, following the success of the first games, the 2nd Maccabiah was held from April 2 to 10,1935 despite official opposition by the British Mandatory government. Over 1,300 athletes from 28 nations participated, the 3rd Maccabiah which was originally scheduled for spring of 1938 were postponed until 1950 due to British concerns of large-scale illegal immigration, World War II, and the Independence War. It became the first Maccabiah to be held after the establishment of the State of Israel, starting from the 4th Maccabiah, the games were changed to take place every four years on the year following the Olympics. Four athletes were killed and 63 injured, more than 5,000 participants from over fifty countries competed in those games. Over the last two decades, the number of participants have grown to 7,700 in the 17th Maccabiah, prior to World War II there was an attempt to organize a winter Maccabiah. Due to the warm temperatures in Palestine, the winter Maccabiot were organized in European nations
First Maccabiah Games
Delegations in the streets of Tel Aviv during the parade of the 1st Maccabiah.
The World Maccabi Movement flag during the opening ceremony of the 19th Maccabiah.