Olympic gala bows to greater royal power

By Jessica Elgot, March 8, 2012
Counter-tenor David D'Or hopes to wow his Israeli Olympic audience

Counter-tenor David D'Or hopes to wow his Israeli Olympic audience

Plans for a gala Olympic fund-raising concert for the Israeli team at the Royal Albert Hall, attended by President Shimon Peres, have ground to a halt as the event clashed with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Instead, the UK flagship event to fundraise for the Israeli athletes will take the form of a Purim celebration this weekend at KoKo in Camden - with around 1,300 people expected to attend the fancy dress concert with '70s Israeli singer Svika Pick, currently a judge on the Israeli version of Pop Idol.

Ynon Kreiz, who has spearheaded the British fundraising drive for the Israeli team, said no agreement could be reached with the Royal Albert Hall over the date.

"We researched it very seriously but the only date available for us was June 4, which is the day of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Across the road, we would have been competing with the Jubilee outdoor concert, including Elton John, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney, and so on, as well as the royal family attending. We wanted it to be a major, top-class event, and it's just not possible that weekend."

Some of the UK's richest businessmen had pledged financial support to the team - hoping that success at the 2012 London Games would enhance the country's image.

Mr Kreiz is the former chairman of Big Brother production company Endemol, and his wife Anat is a former Olympic rower.

The trustees are already believed to have raised millions to improve the team's training facilities.

President Peres is now expected to visit the UK in August, during the Games, for a memorial service to mark the 40th anniversary of the massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics. The service has been organised in conjunction with the Israeli embassy and the London Olympic Jewish Organising Committee.

Former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are also expected to attend the event, at which Israeli singer David D'Or will perform.

Last updated: 1:32pm, March 8 2012