RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — The largest Jewish sporting event of the Americas is taking place in Mexico.
The 14th Pan-American Maccabi Games is taking place through July 15 in Mexico City, where 3,800 athletes from 19 countries compete in 24 sports.
The continental event is held every four years in a cycle two years apart from the international Maccabiah Games held in Israel. The Pan American Maccabi brings athletes from North, Central and South America, along with others from Australia and Israel.
“Welcome to the athletes of the 14th edition of the Pan-American Maccabi games in Mexico City, a melting pot of cultures and nationalities. Cultural capital of America,” said Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, the capital’s first elected Jewish and female mayor. “Sports should always be a symbol of peace and inclusion.”
Maccabi competitors must be either Jewish or Israeli.
Israel’s ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled, said it was his first Maccabi games outside of Israel.
“It’s a great party with nearly 4,000 athletes,” he told the local media. “It’s a full week of celebration and sports, a great party of the Jewish family.”
For Jack Terpins, president of the Maccabi World Union, the 15,000 spectators at the Pan-American Maccabi are a great honor.
“I tell the athletes that I hope they create bonds of friendship, that they will make unforgettable memories in these times when the voices of intolerance and anti-Semitism are heard again,” he said. “To be here today is an expression of life, progress and improvement.”