JERUSALEM (JNS) — Israel is set to send to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo its largest delegation of athletes ever.
An estimated 85 athletes will be competing in 18 sports on behalf of the Jewish state. Vered Buskila, vice president of the Olympic Committee of Israel, told the news site NoCamels, “This is a crazy number by Israeli standards. That’s something that we never thought could happen in the near future.”
Buskila explained that more athletes have yet to qualify including those in sports like track & field and swimming.
This year Israel’s baseball team made it to the Olympics for the first time in its history after beating South Africa 11-1 in a qualifying tournament, which added another 24 athletes to the Israeli delegation.
“This is the ultimate dream come true,” said Peter Kurz, Israel Association of Baseball president and general manager of Team Israel, in a statement on the IAB website. “It was almost too impossible to imagine but with the astounding performances of a dedicated team that always believed in itself.”
Israeli athletes have also qualified to compete in equestrian show jumping, shooting and rhythmic gymnastics, among other sports. The Olympic Committee of Israel is aiming to have 10 athletes in the finals, Buskila explained.
“In Rio, we had five. We want to double it,” she said. “We aim to win two medals. We ever had more than two medals at the same Olympic Games, so maybe this will be our year.”
“If we can have the best army in the world and the best hi-tech in the world, why can’t we have the best athletes?”
Israel has won a total of nine Olympic medals since its debut in 1952 in the Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki.