Athletes to Pick Up Bill for Rising Costs

Participation fees in the 2009 Maccabiah Games - an Olympics-styled Jewish sporting event - will be raised by $350 to cover a $2.5 million budget shortage, Maccabi World Union delegates decided Friday.

Some 7,000 athletes who have signed up to compete at the event will now have to pay $2,930 instead of $2,580.

Organizers at the meeting that took place at Kfar Hamaccabiah near Ramat Gan feared the increased participation fee would set off a wave of cancellations by athletes who planned to take part in the competition.

"We have no other choice," Attorney Itamar Herman, who heads the Games' organizing committee, said. "We hope that despite the rise in prices ... the 18th Maccabiah Games will be the biggest yet, as expected." Recent hikes in air travel and accommodation expenses as well as the devaluation of the dollar have necessitated that Games' organizers to consider ways of raising another $2.5 million on top of the current $18 million allocated for the event.

Meanwhile, Maccabi World Union delegates in Israel for the conference took part in the torch-lighting ceremony in Jerusalem on the eve of Independence Day and watched the army parade at Tel Aviv the following day. Maccabi World Union President Jean Futeran hosted the Twito family of Sderot, whose children Osher and Rami were seriously hurt in a Qassam attack. Osher's leg was severed in the explosion and he has since been recovering in the hospital. The Maccabi group made arrangements for the family to attend the torch ceremony in Jerusalem and rented a car for them.