András Heisler, president of Hungary’s Jewish federation Mazsihisz, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán thanking him for the government’s backing of Hungary’s organisation of the 15th European Maccabi Games, the PM’s press chief said.
“We have accomplished what we could never have done without the support of the Hungarian government. We organised the 15th European Maccabi Games,” Bertalan Havasi quoted Heisler as writing.
“We’ve just finished hosting Europe’s biggest mass sporting event and all of us — from the prime minister to our athletes to our volunteers — can be proud of this.”
Heisler highlighted the security surrounding the event, the “21st-century comfort” provided by the Ludovika campus of the National University of Public Service, the funding allocated towards the event and praised “the patience of Budapest’s residents”.
He said the event had demonstrated that sports could provide a community experience which “can help with building the future of Hungary’s Jewish community that has been crippled multiple times over the course of history”. He added that Mazsihisz was ready to work with the government in establishing a Jewish sports centre.
Heisler noted that the 15th European Maccabi Games featured 2,300 Jewish athletes competing in more than 20 branches of sport.
Hungary won a total of 49 gold medals, making this the country’s most successful Maccabi Games, he said. Heisler himself was on the Maccabi VAC Hungary men’s senior swimming team which won the gold medal in the 1,500m freestyle event.