Kyte plays down concerns over 2013 Maccabiah

GB organisers call for calm after Maccabiah prices reach new high

By Danny Caro, October 6, 2011

Athletes should not be put off applying for the 2013 Maccabiah Games as a result of spiralling costs.

That is the view of David Kyte, the head of delegation for Team GB, after a major price increase of £1,155 per athlete from the 2009 Jewish Olympics was announced.

GB are expecting to send their largest-ever delegation of over 500 competitors, managers, coaches, medical staff and management team to Israel in two years but there is a fear that many could be out-priced.

Kyte said: "You have to understand it is a very tough environment. We've lost 25 per cent on the dollar from 2009 and are looking to find a corporate sponsor.

"The price increase includes air fare, merchandise and the demands of training the squad. It's a challenge."

David Kyte

David Kyte

The 18th Maccabiah saw GB charge athletes £2,795. The cost for the 2013 Games will be £3,950 for Junior and Open athletes, while Masters will be charged £4,750.

Kyte said: "It's clear that a lot of athletes will need help but nobody should not apply through fear of being out-priced. We will do what we can to ensure everyone goes.

"We're not closing the door to anyone but will be encouraging managers to select their squads by the end of the year.Teams will be picked on merit, not credit. People have to be committed to play, as well as finding the finances. There will be concessions for all GB management and a slight premium for our Masters.

"Every sports manager and chair knows that they will have to work that little bit harder. We'll be as flexible as we can to allow for people with work and family commitments and I want to make sure that everyone selected attends the Opening Ceremony."

Traditionally, there is a big emphasis on squads raising funds to cover costs. Team USA are expected to send the biggest travelling delegation with the Masters squad charged $10,000 to help subsidise their juniors. GB's costs are believed to be on a par with the USA and Australia. Other nations have yet to finalise their prices.

Martin Berliner, Chief Executive of Maccabi GB, said: "We want to give athletes as long as possible to pay and prepare.

"The organisers in Israel are aware of the situation. They told us that they haven't priced the Games so that people won't come.

"We hope to take 250 juniors and there is a chance that the cost could open the door to new competitors.

"We're also hoping that UJIA will sponsor the family and supporters package."

Taking place in Israel every four years, the Games are now the third largest sporting event in the world, after the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. The 19th Games are expected to see almost 60 nations compete in around 30 sports, with an expected 10,000 participants.

But not all GB representatives feel the same. A squad member from 2009, who did not want to be named, said: "The Maccabiah has always been about the best sportsmen. It has now become about the richest or those who can afford it. It is an absolute and utter disgrace."

Herschel Gutman, who coached the Israel team in 2009, said: "Israeli athletes pay nothing other than minor costs for kit and a small fee for the opening ceremony, which the association covers, but I'm not sure if it a financially viable tournament any more."

Stuart Lustigman, a former chairman of the European Maccabi Confederation, who is on the International Sports Committee of the Games, explained the rise in fees: "The basic registration costs of $3,800 applies to all countries. This covers the basic running costs including ground costs, hotels, facilities, transport, security and staff, while the Israeli government makes a substantial contribution to help subsidise the poorer nations.

"The organisers cannot reduce the quality of accommodation, facilities or sports events. No-one has really come up with a solution to make it cheaper, plus in addition, Israel has become an expensive country.

"GB have higher central costs than most countries who are run on a voluntary basis. There's no way they can afford to run at a loss but also, they don't want to make an unreasonable profit.

"I'm sure they would like to give athletes the best possible deal but you have to be cautious. No doubt there will be some who cannot afford it, which is regrettable.

"I am concerned but you have to live in the real world. However, I remember having this conversation four years ago but it turned out to be the largest ever Maccabiah."

Last updated: 2:57pm, May 3 2012