Israeli national record holder Aviv Barzelay will join the Israeli delegation to compete in the women’s 200-meter backstroke event in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
The International Swimming Federation invited 19-year-old Barzelay to join the Olympics games in Tokyo after she broke the Israeli record in the 200-meter backstroke event in a recent championship in Rome.
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Barzelay, who swims for the Maccabi Haifa team, received the invitation even though her new record of 2:10:76 was 0.31 seconds short of the Olympic qualifying criterion, which is considered to be especially strict for swimming. The federation invited other international swimmers to the Olympics in an effort to fill the remaining spots.
“It’s an amazing feeling," Barzelay said. “I can’t wait to participate [in the Olympics]. I’m ready to represent Israel in the best way possible in Tokyo."
Barzelay's participation was approved by the Israel Swimming Association, the governing body for the sport in Israel, and she will now be part of the team to Tokyo. According to Israel’s Olympic rules, when an Israeli swimmer doesn’t meet the Olympic criteria but is invited to the games by the international federation, the Israel Swimming Association has to approve the invitation.
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The Israeli swimming team to the games now consists of 15 swimmers, including a duet in artistic swimming.
After being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics will go open on July 23 despite warnings from Japanese health experts.
Public sentiment in Japan has been generally opposed to holding the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, partly based on fears the coronavirus will spike as almost 100,000 people – athletes and others – enter the country for both events.
So far, only 5 percent of Japanese are fully vaccinated.