Following are Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s remarks (in Hebrew) at the opening of the 16th Maccabiah on Monday, July 16, 2001, at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.
"From Jerusalem, the eternal and united capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years, I welcome you, the participants of the 16th Maccabiah, on behalf of the government and people of Israel.
The Maccabiah is – first of all – a show of heartfelt unity. We are gathered here, friends from every corner of the Jewish people, seeking to come together in friendship, candor and love of the competition, just like the achievement of victory.
At this time, in which the State of Israel is in a complex campaign, your coming to Israel from all parts of the Diaspora is cogent testimony to the victory of the spirit of the Maccabees of old, the victory of determination and faith in the justice of our way.
Approximately 2,100 years ago, the Maccabees lit the torch in Modi’in and carried it to the gates of Jerusalem, in the Jewish people’s struggle for freedom in its homeland. The same fire of freedom and faith, which was not extinguished during 2,000 years, is, today, passed on to you. I know that you, who came to participate in the 16th Maccabiah with us at this time, will carry the torch of the Maccabiah with pride.
In the tradition of the Jewish people’s mutual responsibility for each other throughout its generations, which the Maccabiah symbolizes more than anything, we bow our heads today in memory of our brothers, the members of the Australian delegation who lost their lives during the 15th Maccabiah four years ago. Even during these happy moments of the opening of the 16th Maccabiah, we take the bereaved families into our hearts and feel the pain of those who were injured.
We are all united in the belief that in the Maccabees’ will and spirit, we will be able to overcome all obstacles that lay before us. I wish that the same spirit will accompany all of you, the participants in the Maccabiah, throughout the games and competitions ahead of you.
Now, a few words of welcome to those of you who don’t speak Hebrew yet: You represent the spirit of the Maccabees who fought for Jerusalem and for Jewish rights and independence 2,167 years ago. I hope that by the 17th Maccabiah, you will be living here, in our homeland, true partners, speaking Hebrew.
On behalf of the government of Israel, I wish you all success in the competitions and an enjoyable stay in Israel.