11 things to know as Israel prepares for the Tokyo Olympics



Israel won two bronze medals – both in judo – from the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. The Paralympic team won three bronze medals in rowing, shooting and swimming.

Will other Israeli athletes stand on the winner’s podium this summer in Tokyo?

That’s the big question as Israel prepares to send its largest Olympic delegation of 89 athletes to the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will take place July 23 through August 8, 2021 – a year later, due to the pandemic.

We will also be sending around three dozen men and women to Tokyo for the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5, where athletes with physical disabilities will compete in the Olympic facilities.

Israeli Paralympic rowers. Photo by Amir Rotshtein / Israeli Paralympic Committee

While our athletes have been busy training to be faster, higher and stronger (that’s the Olympic motto) than their counterparts from 205 other countries, we’ve been busy putting together some fun facts about participating in Israel at the world’s ultimate sports festival.

As we get closer to the start of the Games and during the competitions, we will bring you additional exciting content on the athletes representing Israel.

  1. It’s Israel 17the Summer olympics

Israel participated in all of the Summer Olympics between the Helsinki Games in 1952 and the Rio Games in 2016, except the Moscow Games in 1980.

Israel began participating in the Winter Olympics in 1994.

Israel has been sending athletes to the Paralympic Games since 1964, hosting the 1968 Paralympic Games in Tel Aviv.

In 2010, Israel sent its first delegation to the Youth Olympic Games.

  1. The medals we won

Or Sasson crunches his bronze medal at the Rio Games. Photo via instagram.com/olympicteamisrael

Israel has won nine Olympic summer medals: Yael Arad (silver, judo, 1992), Oren Smadja (bronze, judo, 1992); Gal Fridman (bronze, veil, 1996); Michael Kolganov (bronze, canoe, 2000); Ariel Ze’evi (bronze, judo, 2004), Gal Fridman (gold, veil, 2004); Shahar Zubari (bronze, veil, 2008), Yarden Gerbi (bronze, judo, 2016) and Or Sasson (bronze, judo, 2016).

At the Paralympics, Israel won an impressive 375 medals: 123 gold, 123 silver and 129 bronze.

  1. The greatest delegations of all time

The Israeli delegation to the Tokyo Games at the President’s residence in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of the Israeli Olympic Committee

Israel sent 47 athletes in 17 sports to the Rio 2016 Games. The 2020/21 roster includes 89 athletes competing in 18 sports (see point # 10). The full delegation, with coaches and other staff and officials, numbered 219.

At the 2016 Paralympic Games, Israel sent 33 athletes to compete in 11 sports. This summer, 34 have so far qualified for Tokyo in 10 sports (see point # 10), with several more expected to qualify at the end of July.

Paralympic athletes at a reception hosted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, June 23, 2021. Photo by Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

4. Shake the blue and white

Yaakov Tormarkin and Hannah Knyazeva-Minenko will be Israel’s flag bearers during the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Games. Photo courtesy of the Israeli Olympic Committee

Swimmer Yaakov Tomarkin, 29, and triple jumper Hannah Knyazeva-Minenko, 31, were chosen as flag bearers for the Israeli delegation during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Tokyo is the third Olympic Games for both. Knyazeva-Minenko was part of the Ukrainian delegation to the London 2012 Games before moving to Israel.

  1. New sport

This year, Israeli Olympians will compete for the first time in baseball, archery, surfing and horseback riding.

The Israeli 24-player national baseball team will face the United States for its first game in the Olympic tournament.

Israeli riders who qualified for the competition include Ashlee Bond, Danielle Goldstein Waldman, Teddy Vlock and Alberto Michán Halbinger.

Ashlee Bond, Israeli Olympic equestrian. Photo by Amit Schussel / Israel Olympic Committee

Anat Lelior, 21, will be Israel’s first Olympic surfer – a new sport this year. Itay Shanny, 22, is Israel’s first Olympic archer.

  1. Feel the love in Watari

Residents of Watari, including a boy in an IDF t-shirt, cheer on an Israeli embassy official during the Olympic torch race. Photo courtesy of the Israeli Foreign Ministry

Barak Shine from the Israeli Embassy in Japan was invited to participate in the traditional torch race ahead of the Games in June. When the runners arrived in Watari, residents waved Israeli flags and banners.

Their appreciation comes from the fact that Israel was the first country to send medical personnel to Watari after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Watari town hall has flown the Israeli flag for the past two years, since its official signing as Israel’s host city for the Olympics.

  1. It’s a family affair

The Olympic and Paralympic delegations include married couples, each with a Jewish husband and a non-Jewish wife. Maru Teferi and Selamawit Dagnachew Teferi are Olympic runners from Ethiopia.

Maru Teferi and Selamawit Dagnachew Teferi, husband and wife Israeli Olympic runners. Photo courtesy of Maru Teferi / Instagram

Michael Rozin and Ilham Mahamid Rozin lead Israeli teams in Paralympic goalball, a football-like sport for athletes with visual impairments.

Additionally, we have siblings: Brothers Shachar (27) and Ran Sagiv (24) will compete for Team Israel as triathlon athletes, while 21-year-old twins Mark and Ariel Malyar are part of the Paralympic swim team.

  1. Piece of collection

Israeli Olympic rhythmic gymnasts Linoy Ashram and Nicol Zelikman with the designs of the Israel Olympic stamps. In the center is Elhanan Shapira from the Ministry of Communications. Photo courtesy of the Israeli Olympic Committee

Three postage stamps were issued by the Israel Stamp Service on the occasion of the Tokyo Olympics. Designed by Baruch Na’a, each stamp features an Olympic sport: swimming, horse riding and gymnastics. The athletes are drawn between two wavy blue lines to symbolize the national flag.

9. The Israel team on TikTok

Because the Tokyo Games will be closed to spectators due to Covid issues, the Israeli Olympic Committee has launched a collaboration with video-sharing app TikTok to showcase exclusive content for the delegation and their trips to Tokyo.

Over 300 original content has already been released: videos featuring Israeli athletes, interviews with international athletes, quizzes, challenges, footage of past matches and much more.


# טוקיו 2020 # Tokyo2020 #TeamIsrael # tokyo2020olympics #olympics

original sound – Israel Olympic Team

  1. What sports?

Israeli Olympians Yoav Cohen and Katy Spychakov prepare for the sailing competition. Photo by Amit Schussel / Israel Olympic Committee

Israel participates in the following summer Olympic sports: archery, track and field, badminton, baseball, cycling (road and mountain), horse riding, gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), judo, sailing, shooting, surfing, swimming (artistic, competition and open water), taekwondo and triathlon.

Israel participates in the following summer Paralympic sports: track and field, boccie, goalball, kayaking, weight training, rowing, shooting, swimming, table tennis and wheelchair tennis.

  1. Star of David inspiration

Modeling Israel’s official Tokyo Games uniforms, left to right, runner Selamawit Dagnachew Teferi, taekwondo fighter Avishag Semberg, sailor Noya Baram, swimmers Andi Murez and Meiron Cheruti, sailor Shahar Tibiand triathlete Shahar Sagiv. Photo courtesy of Follow Team Israel

The official Israel uniform for the opening and closing ceremonies – t-shirts, chinos and shorts and a transparent nylon jacket – is inspired by the Star of David. As in the last six Olympics, the uniforms were designed and manufactured by the Israeli fashion house Castro.


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