First held in Prague in 1929, and since the end of the 1970’s hosted every four years in a different European city, two years after the Maccabiah in Israel, this will be the 15th edition of EMG. The event will feature 2200 participants (including 690 Juniors) from 40 countries, competing in 63 competitions across 20 sports. It will be the largest adult multi-sport event in Hungary to date. Budapest won the right to organise the event in 2015, beating Basel, largely due to its strong Jewish heritage and the success of Hungarian athletes at previous Games. The Chief Patron of the Games is János Áder, President of Hungary, who will also deliver a speech at the Opening Ceremony.
The largest delegation is coming from Germany with 297 athletes, while Hungary will be represented by its biggest delegation ever with 214 athletes. The oldest participant at 86-years-old is an American bridge player, and the youngest is a 10-year-old chess player from Lithuania.
South Africa is one of eight non-European countries invited to the 2019 Games, which also includes Israel. #TeamMaccabiSA is taking a delegation of 91 athletes and officials and will be competing in futsal, half-marathon, swimming, table tennis and tennis. A supporters group of over 70 family and friends will also be joining the delegation to cheer us on.
Tennis and Table Tennis have the most countries taking part (17 each), followed by futsal and swimming with 15 each. Eleven countries will contest the half marathon, which excitingly forms part of the Budapest Night Run taking place on 3 August. Football is the most popular competition of the Games in terms of participants and spectators.
The Opening Ceremony will be held on 30 July at the New Nándor Hidegkuti Stadium, and will also host the final of the football competition.
For the first time in the 90-year history of EMG, official sports federations will facilitate the organisation of the events and the authentic of the results. These include the Hungarian Futsal, Swimming, Table Tennis and Tennis Associations.
The Maccabi SA Games Committee has been hard at work for many months to ensure that #TeamMaccabiSA is well prepared to deliver their best performances.
Elan Sawitzky, SA’s Head of Delegation, is confident that planning is on track to ensure a successful event. ‘’We are taking quite a large delegation which requires a fair amount of logistical planning, including visas, travel, accommodation, accreditation and medical personnel. We have made good progress and are now finalising the last details to ensure our Games experience runs efficiently, allowing our athletes to focus on competing’’.
EMG is not only a sporting event but also a Jewish cultural celebration. The Jewish Cultural Feast, which is the biggest Jewish festival in Europe, takes place in Budapest every year. The event will be held during EMG in order to allow delegates to experience the vibrant Hungarian Jewish life. The teams will also have a unique Shabbat at the famous Dohány Street Synagogue. Known as the Great Synagogue of Budapest, it was completed in 1859 and is the largest synagogue in Europe, seating 3000 people.
“We are delighted to be flying the SA flag at the upcoming European Games, with such a large and talented team. We wish all our participants the best of luck and trust that the experience will be rewarding and meaningful, taking place in a city steeped in Jewish history,’’ said Cliff Garrun, Chairman of Maccabi SA.
#TeamMaccabiSA, led by Garrun, participated in EMG for the first time in 2015. The Games were held in Berlin which was of great significance as they took place in the Olympic Park near the 1936 Olympic Stadium, where Jews were banned from the German delegation. Almost eighty years later, 2500 Jewish athletes sang HaTikvah and proudly displayed Magen Davids in a place where Nazi flags once flew. The SA delegation of 35 athletes competed in two sports, bringing home two bronze medals for futsal and eight for swimming (five gold, three silver).
Stay tuned as we profile our #ProudlySA EMG sports, teams and athletes over the coming weeks, as well as provide event information and behind-the-scenes features. We look forward to sharing our 2019 EMG journey with you! #YallaMaccSABack to News