Israel at the Olympics

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Not to be confused with Israel at the Paralympics.
Israel at the Olympic Games

Flag of Israel
IOC code  ISR
NOC Olympic Committee of Israel
Website (Hebrew) (English)
Olympic history
Summer Games
Winter Games

Israel has competed at the Olympic Games as a nation since 1952. Its National Olympic Committee was formed in 1933 during the British Mandate of Palestine.[1] As the team represented the Jewish community, it boycotted the 1936 Games in Germany in protest of the Nazi Party's anti-Semitic policies.[2]

Israel has sent a team to each Summer Olympic Games since 1952 (except when they participated in the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics) and to each Winter Olympic Games since 1994.

In 1972, 11 members of the Israeli delegation were murdered by members of Black September Palestinian terrorist group.[3]


In 1933 the Palestine National Olympic Committee was officially formed, and was recognized by the International Olympic Committee in May 1934,[4] despite never competing.[1] Although this committee represented Jews, Christians and Muslims their rules stated that they "represent[ed] the Jewish National Home."[1]

Israel was previously part of the Asian Games Federation until it was disbanded in 1981. In 1982 instead of joining the new Olympic Council of Asia, Israel opted to join the European Olympic Committees.[5]


Israel won its first Olympic medal in its tenth Olympic appearance, in 1992, in Judoka when Yael Arad won a silver medal.[6] She was followed a day later by another judoka, Oren Smadja, who won bronze.[7] Since then, Israel won at least one medal in five successive Summer Olympics until the streak ended in 2012. In 2004, Gal Fridman became Israel's first and only gold medallist in men's windsurfing.[8] This was his second medal, following his bronze in 1996,[8] and he is the only multi-medallist. Through 2014, Israel has not won any medals in the Winter Olympics.

Israel has been more successful at the Paralympic Games than at the Olympics, with 380 medals between 1960 and 2012.[9]

Competing against Iran[edit]

The government of Iran has taken steps to avoid any competition between its athletes and those from Israel. An Iranian judoka, Arash Miresmaeili, did not compete in a match against Israeli Ehud Vaks during the 2004 Summer Olympics. He was officially disqualified for being overweight, however Miresmaeli was awarded US$125,000 in prize money by the Iranian government, an amount paid to all Iranian gold medal winners. The International Judo Federation conducted an investigation to see if he intentionally came in overweight in order to miss the bout. He was officially cleared of intentionally avoiding the bout, but his receipt of the prize money raised suspicion.[10]

1936 Boycott[edit]

Individual Jewish athletes from a number of countries chose to boycott the Berlin Olympics. In the United States, the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Labor Committee supported a boycott.[2]

Medal tables[edit]

Gold medalist windsurfer Gal Fridman

Medals by Games[edit]

Games Gold Silver Bronze Total
Spain 1992 Barcelona 0 1 1 2
United States 1996 Atlanta 0 0 1 1
Australia 2000 Sydney 0 0 1 1
Greece 2004 Athens 1 0 1 2
China 2008 Beijing 0 0 1 1
United Kingdom 2012 London 0 0 0 0
Total 1 1 5 7

Medals by sport[edit]

Sport Gold Silver Bronze Total
Sailing 1 0 2 3
Judo 0 1 2 3
Canoeing 0 0 1 1
Total 1 1 5 7

List of medalists[edit]

Medal Name Games Sport Event
 Silver[6] Arad, YaelYael Arad Spain 1992 Barcelona Judo pictogram.svg Judo Women's half middleweight
 Bronze[7] Smadja, OrenOren Smadja Spain 1992 Barcelona Judo pictogram.svg Judo Men's lightweight
 Bronze[8] Fridman, GalGal Fridman United States 1996 Atlanta Sailing pictogram.svg Sailing Men's sailboard
 Bronze[11] Kolganov, MichaelMichael Kolganov Australia 2000 Sydney Canoeing (flatwater) pictogram.svg Canoeing Men's K-1 500 metres
 Bronze[12] Zeevi, ArielAriel Zeevi Greece 2004 Athens Judo pictogram.svg Judo Men's half heavyweight
 Gold[8] Fridman, GalGal Fridman Greece 2004 Athens Sailing pictogram.svg Sailing Men's sailboard
 Bronze[13] Tzuberi, ShaharShahar Tzuberi China 2008 Beijing Sailing pictogram.svg Sailing Men's sailboard

Olympic participants[edit]

320 athletes were members of the Israeli Olympic delegation, though six of them didn't actually take part in competitions.

Athletes by sports:

Sport Athletes Games Years
Summer Olympics
Athletics 49 14 1952–1984, 1992–2012
Swimming 44 15 1952–2012
Football 35 2 1968, 1976
Gymnastics 31 9 1960, 1976–1992, 2000–2012
Sailing 31 10 1972–2012
Shooting 26 14 1952, 1960–2012
Judo 18 8 1976–1984, 1992–2012
Wrestling 14 7 1972–1976, 1988–2004
Basketball 13 1 1952
Fencing 13 9 1960, 1972–1984, 1992–2008
Weightlifting 11 6 1960, 1972–1984, 1992–1996
Tennis 9 6 1984–1992, 2004–2012
Canoe/Kayak 6 5 1984, 1996–2008
Boxing 5 3 1984–1988, 1996
Taekwondo 2 2 2004–2008
Cycling 2 1 1960
Table tennis 1 1 2004
Badminton 1 1 2012
Winter Olympics
Skating 8 5 1994–2010
Skiing 1 2 2006–2010

Munich massacre[edit]

The eleven members of Israel's 1972 Olympic team murdered during the Munich massacre:[3]


External links[edit]