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President Biden Steals Show at Israel’s Maccabiah Opening in Jerusalem

The 21st Maccabiah Games, the world’s largest sporting event for the year 2022, opened Thursday night with a spectacular celebration at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium. While the 10,000 athletes participating in the Games took center stage, the guest of honor was US President Joe Biden, whose trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Saudi Arabia coincided with the Games’ opening.

Israeli gymnasts and Olympic champions Linoy Ashram and Artem Dolgopyat lit the ceremonial torch at the opening ceremony, which featured performances by Israeli pop singers Eden Ben Zaken and Static & Ben El Tavori.

The Games include more than 10,000 athletes in 62 delegations from around the world, competing for 2,100 medals in 29 different sports, encompassing 42 disciplines. The Games will be held at venues in 18 Israeli cities.

The packed stadium cheered as the American delegation marched past President Biden and Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid. “I’m so damn proud of you,” President Biden told the athletes. “Godspeed and go get ‘em, guys.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog told the athletes at the opening ceremony, “Jewish sisters and brothers from all over the world. You come here from tens of countries, but you represent one people, the Jewish people, the people of Israel. Dear athletes, our country is your country, our home is your home.”

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon told the athletes, “Jerusalem now more than ever is the meeting place for the Jewish people. … I’m sure that you will leave here as ambassadors of Israel and ambassadors of Jerusalem.”

The Games will end with a closing ceremony on July 25.