Herzog to Olympians: Think of the hostages as you compete in Paris

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

President Isaac Herzog speaks to Olympians and Paralympians at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on June 19, 2024 (Oded Karni/Olympic Committee of Israel)
President Isaac Herzog speaks to Olympians and Paralympians at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on June 19, 2024 (Oded Karni/Olympic Committee of Israel)

President Isaac Herzog wishes the Israeli Olympians and Paralympians taking part in this summer’s games in Paris the best of luck and asks them to always think of the hostages in Gaza as they compete.

“You will be our ambassadors, all of you, in France and the whole world,” he says at an event organized at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem for the athletes and the delegation ahead of their departure for the Olympics, which kick off next month.

“You are representing us not just on the field, the course, in the gymnasium — but also before and after the competitions,” Herzog adds. “It’s no secret that not everyone loves us in the world or in Europe, and it’s likely that you will also absorb some of the criticism that the State of Israel absorbs.”

Turning to the hostages, Herzog suggests that it’s possible some of those being held captive might see or hear of the Israeli athletes’ successes, “somewhere over in Gaza. So think of that when you go to the court, to the race, to the competition — think of them, we will all think of them and hope to see them home soon.”

More than 80 Israelis will compete at the Paris Olympics in 15 sports, followed several weeks later by the Paralympics, in which more than 20 Israeli athletes will take part.

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