Tag Archives: 2008 Olympics

More Politics in the Olympic Pool

The Jerusalem Post reports that a Syrian swimmer, Bayan Jumah, withdrew from the eighth 50m freestyle preliminary heat today. Jumah’s lane was directly alongside Israeli swimmer Anya Gostomelsky‘s.

JPost did not include an explanation from Jumah or the Syrian Olympic Committee.

This is the second such incident of the Beijing Games. Earlier this week we wrote about Iranian swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei suddenly withdrawing from a 100m breaststroke preliminary heat in which an Israeli was to swim, ostensibly because of stomach pains. Despite the obvious political implications (Iran prohibits contact with Israelis) the IOC accepted Alirezaei’s explanation, and the issue has not been pursued further.

Gostomelsky, who failed to qualify for semifinals despite setting a new Israeli record, said, “I didn’t notice that the lane beside me was empty. It’s her problem.”

Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

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Drama in the Aquatic Cube at Beijing

Iranian swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei withdrew from the 100-meter breaststroke prelims on Saturday, raising suspicion that he did so because an Israeli swimmer, Tom Beeri, was placed in the same heat. If Alrezaei did indeed pull out of the race for political reasons, Iran would face potential sanctions according to International Olympic Committee guidelines.

But the IOC has accepted Alirezaei’s explanation that he was experiencing stomach pains before his race and say that no violation has occurred.

An Iranian athlete withdrew from the judo tournament in Athens in 2004 to great praise because an Israeli athlete was competing. At that time, says CNN:

The Iranian president was quoted by the state news agency as saying the athlete’s actions would be “recorded in the history of Iranian glories” and declared that the nation considers him to be “the champion of the 2004 Olympic Games.”

Iran does not recognize Israel’s existence and prohibits contact with Israelis. Despite all that, Russia’s Israeli men’s basketball coach met and shook hands with the Iranian basketball team in Beijing on Sunday.

Benjamin Schuman-Stoler

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Beijing Olympics: Jewish Update Part II

Alas, the über-hyped 2008 Beijing Olympics are upon us. A few weeks ago, we had an overview of Jewish news related to the Games, and we’re pleased to bring a second installment.

You’d probably like to know, for example, how many American-Jews will be competing. The answer to that is seven, led by four swimmers.

Jason Lezak, Ben Wildman-Tobriner, Garrett Weber-Gale, and Dara Torres lead the way. The three men, in fact, will most likely comprise three-fourths of the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay. And Torres, the 41 year-old sprinter who has nine medals to her name, is enshrined in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and will be competing in her fifth Games, hardly needs an introduction. Continue reading

Beijing Olympics: Jewish Update

We are getting closer and closer to the Beijing Olympics next month, where all the Jews whose baseball teams have nothing left to play for will finally have summer sports worth watching again. In order to get you ready, we will have periodic updates on Israeli Olympic news.

First of all, NBC has some interesting coverage of Israel’s Olympic history and Beijing outlook. NBC says Israel “first competed in 1952 and has since missed only the 1980 Moscow Games, which it boycotted.”

Unfortunately, though, much of the most recent news has been negative.

An Israeli marathon runner was arrested earlier this week on fraud charges. He was released today. And earlier this month, U.S.-born Israeli swimmer Max Jaben tested positive for an anabolic steroid. Jaben is still hopeful the test will be disproved and he will be allowed to compete. Continue reading