(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat met on Monday, 9 July 2012, met with the members of the Israeli Olympic delegation which will soon leave for London. The delegation's 38 athletes, Israel Olympic Committee Chairman Zvika Vershaviak and IOC Secretary-General Efraim Zinger attended the meeting.
Prime Minister Netanyahu gave each athlete a chocolate medal and asked them to return with real medals to add to the seven that Israeli Olympic athletes have won since 1992. He also drew a picture, for the Israel Olympic Committee Museum, of an Israeli Olympic athlete and wrote on it: "Faster, higher, stronger. To Israel's Olympic delegation, good luck. Benjamin Netanyahu."
Picture drawn by PM Netanyahu
Prime Minister Netanyahu commended the athletes and cited the 1999 Israeli film Mivtza Savta: "The way is to start as fast as possible and slowly, slowly to pick up the pace. Whoever passes the physical and mental tests knows that it requires great concentration – mobilizing all of one's internal strength, from the inner soul, from the hurting muscles and the exploding lungs. But there is great potential here. You have already brought results and as we hear the national anthem – we know what it means to each and every one of us."
Prime Minister Netanyahu added: "They brought for me from the State Archive the Israel Olympic Committee report on the affair regarding the appearance of Israel's delegation at the 15th Summer Olympics in Helsinki. The investigation was designed to check if there had been a failure on the part of our athletes at the games because they did not win any medals. We are not forming commissions of inquiry; we are sending you with greatest possible faith, support and backing."
Regarding the Munich massacre, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "I remember when this happened and the profound shock that we all experienced. I call on the International Olympic Committee to dedicate a moment of silence in memory of the slaughter of athletes at the Olympics. This is what needs to be done."
Culture and Sports Minister Livnat said, "I would like to wish success to each of the athletes. The entire country stands behind you and looks to you. We are proud of all of you. Go in peace and return in peace."
Minister Livnat updated Prime Minister Netanyahu on the initiative, which is gaining momentum around the world, to hold a minute of silence in memory of the Munich victims. "They were murdered in the Olympic village that was supposed to symbolize peace and the hope for coexistence only because they were Jews, only because they were Israelis. I hope that the International Olympic Committee will be persuaded in the end to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremony," she said.
The Israeli Olympic Committee is marking the 60th anniversary of Israel's first participation at the Olympics, in Helsinki, the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre and the 20th anniversary of Israel's first Olympic medals, at Barcelona in 1993 (Yael Arad and Oren Smadja). Israel's delegation, which will be Israel's 15th, numbers 38 athletes, including 18 women, in eight sports, including gymnastics (ten athletes), swimming (eight) and sailing (seven). The delegation also includes Moshe Silverman, Israel's first Olympic badminton player, and Arik Zeevy, who is expected to be the third Israeli athlete to participate in four Olympiads.