The world is busy watching the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Israel has sent its largest ever delegation in the hope of bringing home a few more medals. At the 2016 Summer Olympics, the country won two bronze medals, both in Judo, and three at the Paralympic games, in rowing, shooting and swimming.
Israel has sent a delegation to every edition of the Summer Olympics since the 1952 Helsinki Games, with the exception of the 1980 Moscow Games, making this the country’s seventeenth time taking part. It has been participating in the Winter Olympics since 1994 and the Paralympics since 1964.
In that time, the country has won nine Summer Olympic medals and an incredible 375 Paralympic medals, 123 golds, 123 silvers and 129 bronzes. This year, Israel has sent 89 athletes to compete in 19 sports and will be sending many more to the Paralympics taking place towards the end of August.
Those who caught the opening ceremony will have seem swimmer Yaakov Tomarkin and triple jumper Hannah Knyazeva-Minenko waving the Israeli flag. Interesting, while both have been to the Olympics twice before, it is only the second time representing Israel for Knyazeva-Minenko as she was part of the Ukrainian delegation to the 2012 London Olympics before making Aliyah.
Israel has not just sent more athletes this year; the country is also competing in more sports. For the first time there are Israelis taking part in baseball, archery, surfing and equestrian. This is the first time that surfing has featured at the Olympics and Anat Lelior will be representing Israel, while Itay Shanny is the country’s first Olympic archer.
The Israeli delegation can be sure of receiving a warm welcome in Japan, something that was already evident at the traditional pre-Games torch race in June when Barak Shine from the Israeli Embassy in Japan was invited to participate. When the runners reached Watari, the residents could be seen waving Israeli flags and banners. The appreciation is testament to the incredible overseas aid work that Israel does. Israel was the first country to send medical personnel to Watari after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the Watari City Hall has been flying the Israeli flag for the past two years, ever since officially becoming Israel’s host city for the Olympics.
This year’s games are closed to spectators due to the pandemic, but in true Israeli fashion, the delegation has turned to technology to overcome this. The Israeli Olympic Committee launched a collaboration with TikTok to present content of the delegation and its achievements in Tokyo. Hundreds of pieces of original content have been released including videos introducing the athletes, interviews, quizzes, challenges, footage of events, and far more.
At the time of writing, Israel has already had a fantastic start at the games. The country won its second ever Olympic gold medal with artistic gymnast Artem Dolgopyat winning the floor exercise competition. It was the first gold medal that Israel has ever won in gymnastics, the country’s only other gold was in sailboarding at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Israel has also already won two bronze medals, and hopefully there will be many more over the coming days.