An official Israeli baseball team is going to the Olympics! For the first time since 1976, when Israel’s soccer team qualified, the Israeli baseball team will be participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After a strenuous year of dealing with the pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been deferred until July 2021.
However, if you’re craving your Israeli baseball fix right now and can’t wait until the start of the Olympics, then you’re in luck. Israel’s team will be participating in a training camp in the Northeast USA, where they will be playing exhibition games against local American teams until the Olympics at venues in Brooklyn, Hartford, Bethesda and Harrisburg.
That being said, the journey to qualify for the Olympics wasn’t an easy one; just back in 2016, Israel’s team was ranked 41-st in the world, but their luck started to improve at the start of 2019. After winning a series of qualifying competitions in Europe, Israel was given the opportunity to compete in the Africa/Europe 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournament. The team’s hard work paid off when they won the tournament, thus propelling them to partake in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After this win, the team is now ranked 18th in the world.
The 24-member team itself is pretty remarkable; the majority of players have made Aliyah, immigrating to Israel through the Law of Return. Only four of the players were actually born in Israel. Although they do not all currently live in Israel, they are members of the Jewish community and travel with the team to train and play. Not only do the players of the Israeli team share citizenship,like most Olympic teams, but they are joined by their common heritage as well. The team is a true representation of the State of Israel and the growth it has gone through, bringing together Jews from all over the globe, uniting them under one flag and one nation.
For more information on Israel’s National Baseball team, check out the official website, and be sure to cheer on our team at this summer’s Olympic games!
The team is also fundraising to pay their expenses to reach the Olympics, via the “25 Campaign” – you can join the 24 players as the 25th player, supporting them spiritually, emotionally, and financially. See the JNF Project Baseball platform for more information.