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The Israeli Olympic Committee is the overseer institution for the sports organizations in Israel and runs under the auspices of the International Olympic Convention.

It is responsible for the preparation and dispatching of the Israeli delegations to the Olympic Games and other international sporting events. It runs long-term programs to foster professional athletes at the highest levels.

The Olympic Association for Eretz Israel was established in 1933 and the current Israeli Olympic Committee, which replaced the former, was only accepted as a member to the Olympic movement in 1952, the year in which an Israeli delegation participated for the first time at the Olympic Games in Helsinki.

4 years earlier, the Games were held in London shortly after the establishment of the State of Israeli but  Israeli athletes were not allowed to participate, seemingly on technical grounds since the invitation was sent to British Mandated Palestine, an entity which ceased to exist after the declaration of the state. It was actually decided under pressure from Arab countries which threatened to boycott the games.

Amazing to discover that the Israeli athletes were invited to the infamous Berlin Games of 1936 but the invitation was obviously refused.

The black period in the Israeli Olympic history is of course the attack against the Israeli delegation during the 1972 Games in Munich, during which Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes and one German police officer.

The decision of the IOC to continue with the games 24 hours after the attack is disputed to this day. Flags were lowered to half-mast from all participating countries except the flags of Arab countries (with the exception of Jordan) who refused to lower their flags.

It took Israeli sports no less than 40 years to get its first medal – Yael Arad who received a silver medal in Judo. Since then there were a number of achievements, the most important one being the first and only Israeli gold medal to this day achieved by the sailor Gal Friedman during the Athens Games 14 years ago.

Let’s hope for more accomplishments during the upcoming Olympics in Rio De Janero.