This Week’s Jewish Trivia Quiz: Israel at the Olympics


Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

The just-completed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games included, for the first time, an official memorial to the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Israel had her most successful Olympics participation with 90 athletes competing, a record for the country.

Israel also set a record for medal winners with four–gold medals for rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram and artistic gymnast Artem Dolgopyat, plus bronze medals for Avishag Semberg in taekwondo plus the 8-member judo mixed team.

But, there was some controversy, however, as a result of what action by an Israeli athlete or athletes?


A. Japan provided beds made out of cardboard for the athletes, and the rumor spread that the beds were designed to only support one person in order to discourage their use for “intimate behavior.” The Israeli baseball team posted a video on TicToc as they jumped on one of the cardboard beds to see how much weight it could actually hold. The bed collapsed at the point that 9 team members jumped on it. They were criticized for showing disrespect to the Olympic hosts.

B. Members of the Israeli gymnastics team posted pictures on Instagram showing them eating the Ebi Filet-O sandwiches at a McDonald’s restaurant. The sandwich is a shrimp filet sandwich that is only available at McDonald’s franchises in Japan. Israeli officials were not happy with the publicity surrounding their athletes eating the non-kosher meal.

C. Peter Paltchik, Israeli judo competitor, wore a headband that read Jew-Do. Though he meant it to be amusing, others thought that it was a joke in poor taste.

D. Members of the Israeli equestrian team competed but lost on Friday afternoon, August 6. Later that evening, the team members were shown on the television broadcast watching the finals in that event. They were wearing their team uniforms at the time, leading to some criticism. While Israel does not impose Shabbat restrictions on its athletes, they do ask their Olympic participants not to wear identifying clothing if they are out on Friday night or Saturday to show respect and sensitivity to religious Israelis on the Sabbath.

E. Malechi Yakstein was Israel’s entrant in the Canoe Slalom competition. When it was his turn, he sat in his canoe, looked at the front and back of the craft, and said hello to the boat in Hebrew, after which he exited the boat and took a bow, saying goodbye to the boat in Hebrew as he walked away. Asked why he never paddled through the canoe slalom course gates and rapids, Malechi Yakstein replied, “Ohhh. Canoe SLALOM. I thought it was Canoe SHALOM!”

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