International Incident Involving Israel Averted at Rio Olympics

Israel's Olympic Delegation at the 2016 Rio games. (Facebook of Udi Gal)

Israeli Olympic Delegation enters the stadium in Rio (Facebook of Udi Gal)

UPDATE (8/9/16): Israel won their first Olympic medal since 2008 when Yarden Gerbi won a bronze medal bout in judo.  A few other Israeli athletes have outside shots at medaling in Rio, and hope to add to the 8 total medals claimed by Israel since their first Olympic appearance in 1952 (only 4 years after they became a nation)!

It seems that no matter where in the world Israelis go, conflict follows!  Such was the case prior to Olympic Opening Ceremonies at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

When the time came to board a bus for their journey to Maracana stadium, they found themselves assigned to the same bus as the Lebanese delegation, who had already boarded the bus.  As the Israeli team attempted to board, they were blocked from boarding and the bus driver was asked to close the door.  At one point, the head of Lebanon’s delegation actually stood in the doorway, physically prohibiting the Israeli team from boarding the bus.

Eventually, Israel’s team was put on another bus and made their appearance at the Opening Ceremonies.  Lebanon’s Minister of Youth and Sport called the action against the Israelis “principled and patriotic,” while Israel’s Culture and Sport Minister labeled it “anti-Semitism pure and simple” and “the worst kind of racism.”  The International Olympic Committee reprimanded the Lebanese delegation leader for their actions.

By the way, Israel sent its largest Olympic team ever to Rio!  Forty-seven Israeli athletes are competing in 17 sports.  Rio de Janeiro is home to about 40,000 Jews, making Brazil as “Israel-friendly” as almost any other city in the world.  Many of Israel’s athletes conducted their pre-games training 250 miles away at Hebraica (a Jewish Community Center) in Sao Paulo.

Israel’s rhythmic gymnastics team is expected to medal, and other athletes also have a shot at the Olympic podium.  Keep your eye out for our Jewish friends, and root them on to victory!

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