Maccabiah dorm 'had bugs and live wires'

By Marcus Dysch, July 30, 2009

Athletes from Britain’s medal-winning Maccabiah Games youth team have described their shock at finding cockroach infestations and live electric wires in the bedrooms of their Israeli accommodation.

The teenagers were due to stay at the Neveh Hadassah youth village, near Netanya, for the duration of the tournament but were relocated to a five-star hotel by Team GB bosses after just 24 hours due to health and safety concerns.

Nachum Rintzler, general manager of the village, said the Maccabi team had arrived with 50 more children than expected, meaning staff had to “improvise” and did not have time to solve problems before the team left.
The village is home to 310 “at risk” Israeli children, aged between 11 and 18. It also acts as a hostel for student and youth groups touring the country.

A Maccabi GB spokesman said a “swift and appropriate” decision was made that the accommodation was not up to the standard required and concerns were raised with Maccabi World Union, which runs the games.
He said that accommodation had been organised by MWU and added: “Our juniors were moved to Jerusalem within 24 hours to ensure that everyone received the best possible Maccabiah experience. We were satisfied with the speed of MWU’s reaction.”

Richard Goodman was the British team’s most successful athlete, winning gold in the 1,500m and 3,000m events. The 16-year-old said: “Neveh Hadassah was not the nicest of places. It was very dirty. The beds were awful. We paid thousands to be in the team, so we were expecting better.”

Daniel Cohen, 17, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, was a member of the silver-medal winning junior boys cricket team.

He said: “It was very poor. I had a chat with the leaders of the delegation about how bad it was. We had paid £2,800 to be there and there were cockroaches, the air con didn’t work in most rooms and the beds were collapsing or already broken.

“We knew we would be staying there and had checked out the link online and the pictures looked okay, so it came as quite a shock.

“A lot of people were very unhappy. Once we’d moved to Jerusalem our journeys were much longer. We did very well under the circumstances.”

Under-18s footballer Alex Nadler said: “Everyone wanted to leave right away. We had to go to our manager’s room for a shower, while captain Elliott Green slept on a chair. We weren’t expecting the best facilities in the world, but we didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. I’d rather have slept on the benches outside.”
But Mr Rintzler said staff at the village had tried to help, but “our choice of rooms and our advice for options were discarded. They left without giving us the chance to see where we could help them sort out any problems.

“If the expectations of the group were based on promises which a youth village in Israel could not possibly match, then there is a serious problem Maccabi needs to address with their members.”

Last updated: 4:09pm, July 30 2009