A lack of interest led to no volleyball events at the recently completed Maccabi Australia International Games in Sydney, but a high-ranking organization official said that will not be the case in the European Maccabi Games in Vienna in July or the Pan American Maccabi Games in Sao Paulo in December.
Jed Margolis, who is the executive director of the Philadelphia-based Maccabi USA – Building Jewish Pride Through Sports, said there will be indoor and beach volleyball competitions at those upcoming events. Athletes, who must be of Jewish descent and United States citizenry, can compete in three divisions – juniors, open, and masters.
“Unfortunately, there was no volleyball at these games,” Margolis wrote in an e-mail four days after the Maccabi Australia International Games were completed. “It takes a certain number of teams to make the competition viable, and there was not the interest in Australia this time.”
Margolis said that is not unusual. The annual events in Australia, Europe and Pan America are regional off-shoots of the World Maccabi Games, which is held every four years in Israel and often is referred to as the “Jewish Olympics.” With approximately 7,500 athletes from more than 50 countries at the 18th Maccabiah Games in 2009, it ranks as the third-largest competition in the world.
In comparison, there were approximately 700 athletes from more than 10 countries at the Maccabi Australia International Games. Margolis expects approximately 2,500 athletes from more than 40 countries at both the European Maccabi Games and the Pan American Maccabi Games.
“Australia is usually one of the regions where we don’t have volleyball,” Margolis said.
Maccabi USA is part of Maccabi World Union, an international organization that “endeavors, through sports, to perpetuate and preserve the American Jewish community by encouraging Jewish pride, strengthening Jewish bonds, and by creating a heightened awareness of Israel and Jewish identity.” With its headquarters in Israel, Maccabi World Union consists of approximately 400,000 people in more than 50 countries.
Originally published in March/April 2011