July 3, 2017, Updated January 18, 2023

Some 7,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries are in Israel to take part in the 20th Maccabiah Games, kicking off at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium on July 6 and running through July 18.

Familiar names to look out for during the competition include: Olympic judo bronze medalists Ori Sasson, Yarden Gerbi and Arik Zeevi; Paralympics rower Moran Samuel; Olympic gold medalist swimmer Fabien Gilot; Olympic gold medalist swimmer Anthony Ervin, rhythmic gymnast Neta Rivkin; and NBA star Omri Casspi.

The sporting competition, often dubbed the “Jewish Olympics,” takes place in Israel every four years. The multi-sport competition is the world’s third-largest sporting event.

Athletes will partake in reception parties on July 4 and 5.

This year’s host city is Jerusalem. But event venues will be spread out around the country. Altogether, the athletes will take part in 43 sports.

“Fifty years after unification, we have finally returned the Maccabiah to its rightful place, Jerusalem—the capital of Israel,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told reporters at a press conference in June.

“I am ecstatic that on the 50th year of the unification of Jerusalem, we are opening the biggest Maccabiah yet,” Amir Peled, chairman of the Maccabiah Games, told JNS.org. “The Maccabiah is the essence of the values I believe in: Zionism, Judaism, brotherhood, peoplehood and sports. The Maccabiah is the one place that Jews from all over the world can come together and bond, and there’s no better place to do so than Jerusalem.”

The Maccabiah Games include Youth, Open, Masters and Paralympics categories.

This year, soccer is the largest event with more than 1,400 athletes from 20 countries scheduled to take part.

The Opening Ceremony, also being called the biggest one yet, will feature a traditional delegation march and will be broadcast live in Israel.

On July 12, “Masters Guests” of the Maccabiah — professional athletes and business leaders from over 30 countries — will meet Israeli sports-tech startups at a cocktail party hosted by the Colosseum, Israel’s international sports-tech community.

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