July 5, 2013
Maccabiah athletes may be no-shows due to visa dispute
The 19th Maccabiah Games could become the next victim of a strike by employees of Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
Athletes from 14 countries are unable to travel to Israel for the major sporting event because they need visas to enter the country.
Late last month, employees at Israeli embassies and consulates in the United States and around the world halted all consular services, including issuing visas. Exceptions are being made for medical emergencies, adoptions and transporting bodies for burial. The halt in consular services was the latest salvo in a 3-month-old labor dispute.
The countries of athletes unable to come to Israel without visas are: Armenia, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia,Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Nicaragua,Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
The 19th Maccabiah Games begin on July 18. More than 8,000 athletes are scheduled to participate in the two-week event.
Maccabi World Union CEO Eyal Tiberger has asked that the workers make an exception and process the paperwork to allow the athletes, who have been training for over two years and already have their tickets, to enter the country.
The workers’ union replied that it will provide services again “when the Finance Ministry decides to sit down for proper talks and negotiations.”
Visas for Jews in the Diaspora who are scheduled to make aliyah also have been held up.